I pretty much make them every year with varying levels of real intention to follow through – New Year’s Resolutions. I am rarely successful. Almost never. Once. I can think of one time I kept my resolution – sort of.
In the years leading up to 2008, I found myself watching Law & Order in one of its iterations, the original, SVU, Criminal Intent, Dastardly Defendants, etc. on one channel or another all the flippin’ time. If I was home, the tv was on and tuned to Law & Order on some station somewhere. I had a satellite at the time. I could get Law & Order 24/7. Yes. Yes, I could.
Slowly, I realized it was making me a different person – more suspicious, adopting the view that the world is a terrible place where terrible things happen all the time, where there are no good guys. Still, my addiction held sway. It was like looking at a car wreck when you drive by. Just couldn’t help myself.
So, armed with the slogan Great in Oh Eight!, I vowed no more Law & Order. I was serious about this although my track record for keeping resolutions was zilch. Still, hope was triumphant.
I visited my lover in Massachusetts for the holidays. I had to leave New Year’s Day to make the long drive home – 800 and some odd miles. I was just about to Cumberland Maryland when the cell rang with a call from The Lover.
“Are you driving in that shit?” He asked.
I said “What shit?” just as I drove into a white out of nowhere. Truly terrifying. I didn’t know where I was on the road. I was blindly following the car in front of me, and I had no idea if they knew where they were on the road. Probably not. It was bad. Really bad. I turned off the music and tried to concentrate on finding the road.
I couldn’t see to get off the interstate and I was in the middle of nowhere headed for Frostburg on I-68 so there wasn’t really any place to get off. 20 mph through the driving snow. The windshield wipers frantically trying to keep the window clear. Me, gripping the wheel like it was my salvation and it sort of was. I was too terrified to even chain smoke.
Inching along, straddling the middle of the two lanes, I think, I followed the car ahead of me not knowing who he or she was following. Visibility was just a few feet. I felt my deodorant fail. Every time I have cracked my car up, it’s been freakishly bad weather out of nowhere. Like the time the tornado touched down on a busy highway in Wisconsin and I rear-ended the car in front of me.
I kept telling myself I was going too slow to be in any real danger if something did happen. Still my knuckles were white and my sweatshirt earning that description.
Finally, I saw a green sign advertising what was available at the next exit. An exit. An honest to God exit. I could get off the road. We got to the exit, but I couldn’t see where it was. Deep snow covered everything and the car in front of me wasn’t signaling he (or she) was going to exit.
I didn’t trust it. Here on the interstate, I had a guide sort of. Down there was chaos with me at the helm. Nope. I decided to follow the car. We drove some more. The windshield wipers would have been hypnotic had I not been in a state of terror. Another exit. This one, I could see the road. I signaled and got off.
The exit ramp was a doozy — circled back on itself. I slid a few times, but I could see black pavement. Up ahead, a Comfort Inn. In the middle of nowhere. All by itself. No gas station. No companion hotels. No restaurants. Just a Comfort Inn in the middle of nowhere. I bet Joseph and Mary looked at that stable the same way I looked at that Comfort Inn.
The lot was full and snow-covered. I found a place to park the car that I think was a parking place, but I’m not sure. I wrestled my suitcase out of the trunk and trundled in. The snow was mid-calf and I wasn’t dressed for it.
Stomping and shaking off the cold, I waited for the person in front of me to finish checking in. Their knuckles too were white and their hair standing on end.
It was my turn. I said, “I would like a room please.” The guy said, “You’re in luck. We have one left.”
I hadn’t even considered that the hotel might be full even though the lot was full of cars. I breathed a sigh of relief.
As is often the case following times of high emotion, I was hungry. I asked the guy about food. He said, there’s a pizza place down the road but they won’t deliver. Vending machines by the elevator.
I traded a $10 bill for ones and headed to the machines. I loaded up on junk food and went to the room where I collapsed on the bed. Eating Cheez-Its, I tried to get a cell signal to call The Lover and tell him I was safe. Eventually, I got one and eventually, I called. He was relieved. We were cut off in mid-sentence.
I looked out the window. In that short time, the wind had blown snow around and over my car. My tracks were gone and the snow was up halfway up the wheel wells.
None of this had been forecast. I had checked, hoping to eke out another day with The Lover by calling the boss and saying I can’t get there by the 2nd. See you on the 3rd.
I tried to call the boss. No signal.
I sat in the hotel room with only the sound of the heating unit humming. I took off my wet shoes and jeans. Rummaged around and found yoga pants. Sat back down. Ate some more Cheez-Its. I grabbed the remote. No channels. I flipped through again. Nothing. Turned the tv off again and stared out the window. I didn’t have a book and I didn’t have my computer. Both were in the car yet. I looked out the window. My car was a white mound in the parking lot. At least I thought it was my car.
I turned the tv on again. Searched slower. Giving each channel time to load.
Finally, yes, I got one to come in. It was a commercial. And then another. And then another.
Finally, the show came on.
An episode of Law & Order SVU. My favorite of the franchises. The New Year’s marathon.
I howled with laughter.
Life is what happens when you’re busy making plans. Or resolutions.
I watched for hours before finally falling asleep.
Morning dawned clear and bright. The lot and the interstate had been plowed. It was easy driving though the landscape was buried in snow.
I did keep my resolution for a few years after that, but New Year’s Day was a complete failure. Usually the one day I can keep a resolution and I flunked resoundingly.
May your New Year’s Day be uneventful!