I have many dear friends from around the world due to my love of Tolkien. I belong to a number of boards with like-minded people. Over the years, I have met many of them. We've formed strong bonds of friendship and love.
One such group from many areas of the east met this week-end in Pittsburgh for what is called a 'moot' - a gathering of people. I debated whether or not to go. Health issues, unreliable car, and the distance caused me to pause. At last, on Saturday morning, I called a friend who was driving up and asked if I could go with her - knowing full well I was probably going to die on the way there or back again.
A little history. The last time I went with this woman, she killed three orange cones. Constant weaving out of her lane. We almost got side-swiped by another car. I held on to the hangy-thingy above the car door and prayed the whole way. I drank heavily, once we arrived, fearing the ride home. I remember Sean Bean in the Lord of the Rings first movie climbed up a mountain, in full gear, because he was deathly afraid of riding in the helicopters used to transport cast and crew. During the filming of one of his monologues, he had to fight to not think about the ride down. That was me.
However, my love of this group of friends decided the issue. I knew I might die. The chances were pretty good. I hadn't driven with the woman in about three years and I knew she had to have gotten worse, in the interim.
I parked my car in the berm of her property, well away from her garage. We got in, buckled in, and she promptly backed out in a wide arc and missed my car by an inch. I was screaming, 'Watch out!' You'd think I would have jumped out then and there, this being a sign from the gods that the trip was doomed. No. I closed my eyes, took a couple deep breaths, and we drove off.
Part way through the trip, some new meds I was on kicked in. We had to pull off the side of the road while I became sick. Interesting trip so far.
We arrived and were welcomed with screams of joy. God - it was a good decision to go and see my friends. What better way to die than on a trip to see them. We talked and laughed for hours. They kept asking us to stay longer, but I began to fear the thought of this woman driving in the dark. I insisted we leave at 6. That gave us two and half hours before dark.
The woman is a bit of a closed-purse. The tolls on the way to the moot were quite high. She wanted to find a way home without paying tolls so she asked our host who told her the way. I was not privy to the discussion. When I got in the car, she said we were going to take route such and such. I kept my eyes peeled for the signs and we found them. Until there weren't anymore with that particular number. I never saw a turn-off or an arrow or anything suggesting that we were no longer on that route.
What gave it away was a sign for a city that I KNEW was so friggin' far south from where we were and where we were headed. I almost screamed out loud. I held it in and told her we were on the wrong road. She pulled out her Garmin and the battery was so dead that it wouldn't turn on, even plugged into the cigarette lighter thingee.
I pulled out my phone and figured out where we were and how we could get home. A long, convoluted route.
Four and a half hours later (2 and 1/2 longer than it should have taken), I arrived home.
Much as I love these people, unless I can get a chauffeur, I'm not going back.
Life is a challenge.