You look out the window, and, not for the first time that day, thought about how wrong the weather forecast had been.
“But then again,” you reason with yourself, “This is Missouri, and they hardly get the forecast right anyway. I should really stop putting so much stock into what the news anchors say.”
You pulled your rubber red boots and sickly green raincoat on and stopped to look at yourself in the hallway mirror. You are unusually pale today, but you supposed that was just the effect of hallway lighting and ugly green coat making you look bad.
You actually don’t mind the coat all that much though. You love this coat, in fact, because of its nasty shade of pea soup green, because it was always a little too big for you, and because most importantly, it had been your dad’s. And even though you have other things to remember your dad by, it was always something like a jacket that made you feel closer to him.
It is pouring literal buckets of rain outside, and for a moment you wonder if you should be going out at all. But then again, your relatives would be expecting you this evening, and if you didn’t go now you would never make it in time to be there by this evening. It was a four hour drive in rain, or without, and being a native Missourian, you had the tendency to try and push through bad weather, as it would probably clear up in a short while anyway. At the very least you would be driving away from the storm anyway.
Mind set, you grabbed the rest of your things; your purse, your cooler, car keys, umbrella, and emergency road map, and headed out to your car.
It takes you a minute, but after throwing most of the things in your arms into the front seat, doubling back to lock the front door, and then running to the safety of your car, you are on your way to your relatives house. You’re glad you weren’t completely soaked through, and shuck off your raincoat to cool off from all your running around.
The drive was mildly uneventful. It was pouring, sure, and your windshield wipers were turned all the way up, but so far it was smooth, careful driving. You were glad there weren’t many cars on the highway as well. Missouri drivers had the tendency to drive erratically in extreme weather, and even in mild weather there were still some people who just didn’t seem to know how to drive.
As you drive, you take sips of your water bottle, bopping along to the upbeat playlist meant to keep you awake and focused. You find yourself squinting more and more as the rain seems to intensify, gushing past your car in streams. It was almost as though you are driving further into the storm, and it is getting worse instead of better.
You were starting to get nervous. You turn the radio down a couple notches, now feeling over stimulated and needing to focus on the hazards of the road. You haven’t seen any cars for a while, and you are still two hours out from your relatives. Thinking fast, you switch on your brights so any cars could see you, and slow down to forty miles per hour, windshield wipers swiping furiously, but not helping much.
You can’t decide whether you should pull off of the road. You are full on nervous at this point, and had turned off the radio, the silence of the car ringing in your ears, causing discord with the monotonous drumming of the rain. You can’t believe it, but the rain seemed to be getting even worse than before, thundering down on the roof of your car and streaming down your windshield. Your vision isn’t getting better either. In the end, you decide to pull off to the side of the highway, at least until the rain let up a little.
You try to shut out the noise of the rain as you shut off the car ignition. You maneuver your seat back as far as you can, trying to stretch your legs a bit so you would be okay to drive later. You text your family to let you know that your okay, you just had to pull off of the highway because of the rain, but you would be en route again shortly. After that, all you could do was wait.
You kill a couple minutes by staring at your phone and twiddling your thumbs across its screen, but you find yourself quickly bored by that. You are trying to spend less time on your phone this year anyway.
Not wanting to dig through your backpack for a book or something to do, you recline your seat back as far as you can take it, start some low music, and lay there, alone with your thoughts.
Rain was unpleasant, in your mind. You didn’t mind being inside while it rained, but overall it was a huge inconvenience, and it didn’t feel right on your skin. You, of course, were an anomaly to all of your cousins and siblings.
Your thoughts turn to your family, and your stomach churns with a mixture of dread and guilt. You love your family, sure, but sometimes it was difficult to see them. There was a lot of past history with your family that bothered you, and while most of it had been resolved both by time and respectful discussion, some of your feelings of apprehension didn’t go away.
You think about the last time you saw your mom, and how she had been warm and talkative, interested in your life but not butting in. You are relieved and grateful that she’s making an effort to make you feel loved and welcome as an adult. You just wish these after effects of apprehension would go away.
You remind yourself, in the words of your counselor;
“It's hard, but healing takes time. It’s a growth process, and even though things seem better now, you still need to take time to take care of yourself and heal.”
You groan, covering your face with your hands and rubbing your eyes. You knew, deep down, that you were just impatient for things to be one hundred percent better. But at least you could bring yourself back to reality, and gently remind yourself that even though that’s not how life works, it would all turn out alright in the end.
The combination of the rain, the low, soothing music on the radio, and how tired your eyes were from squinting, caused you to think to yourself;
“I’ll just close my eyes for a moment. I won’t fall asleep. Just a moment.”
Moments later, you jolt straight up in your seat, shouting,
“Shit!” You had fallen asleep. You have a tendency of convincing yourself you won’t sleep, and then every time, you fall asleep.
After fumbling wildly for your phone, you see on the too bright screen that it’s five pm.
“Okay, not bad not bad.” You mutter as you dial up your brother’s number. As you listen to the ringing, waiting for him to pick up, you also notice that the rain has let up significantly. It’s barely a light sprinkling now. Your brother picks up as you restart your car and get back on the road.
“Hey, yeah, I’m back on my way.” You hear yourself say into the receiver. “I ended up falling asleep, so sorry if I was keeping you guys waiting more than necessary. I’ll be there by seven for sure though, the weather has cleared up significantly.” A pause from you, then,
“Tell Mom and Dad I’m excited to see them.” And you found that, even after your troubled thoughts, you meant it.
“Yep. Uh-huh. Love you, bye.”