My last two Saturday poems have focused on a subject that has hijacked every facet of our lives, and sadly, the lives of many. Even as we are isolating, the constant information and the virus itself, seem impossible to escape, however, healthy escapes are what we need. I hope you are finding those escapes. I also hope that what follows will give you a five-minute break and a few laughs. My story may even make you marvel at the wonder of our guardian angels.
One such occasion took place in Chandler, at my boyfriend’s (now husband) childhood home that he lived in (along with three roommates) when we were first dating. My boyfriend, John, owned a gray Dodge van that I had driven that day. I know what you are thinking … but the van had belonged to his mom and in that van, many traveling adventures were had. I had my own adventure in that van on this memorable day; one that was not intended. Driving the van, I returned to John’s house, and was annoyed to find his roommate’s girlfriend’s car parked in the center of the carport, leaving no place for anyone else to park – certainly not a large van.
“Who does that?” I grumbled, as I put the van in park, hopped out, and ran in to tell her to move her car. At least I thought the van was in park. Wrong. Already heated from the moment, I turned to observe the van beginning to cruise, in reverse, down the street. It must have popped out of gear! My immediate reaction was to chase the speeding gray ton bullet. Giving no regard to the fact that I was wearing heels, I sprinted toward the van. I actually caught up with the van. Now what? I contemplated my options as I ran alongside the driverless van. How was I going to open the door, I thought, and if I did, then what? I would probably trip and get caught under the large rear tire. My body would be the first of many objects the out-of-control van would flatten as it plowed its way down the neighborhood street and into a nearby park. Panic set in. My ONLY option in that moment was to pray. Pray I did.
My prayers were not being answered, in fact, the van veered slightly and jumped a curb and was now heading directly toward a house. “Oh, God!” “This van is going to kill someone!” I was helpless to stop it.
The van had gained a lead, and it appeared it would smash into the helpless house before I could do anything to stop it or have time to alert the family surely seated on the other side of the wall. The same wall that the out-of-control van was cruising toward. Suddenly, just inches before crashing into the front door, the reckless van stalled. Confused, but relieved, I exhaled the air I had sucked into my body when I first saw the van begin its joyride. I leaped toward the gray beast. I did not, for one moment trust that it had completed its afternoon torment. I was sure it had just decided to pause for a rest – teasing me – before launching back into reverse, before I could reach the door handle. I was not going to let that happen. I lunged for the silver handle, opened the door and jumped in. I jammed the gear shift into park and yanked out the keys. The next calm and rational response would have been to drive the van back to John’s house. I was not calm. I was too rattled to consider driving the hurling heap of dangerous metal. Instead, I ran further down the street, toward another neighbor’s house, where I was hoping to find John. After a frenzied knock, I charged through the door way and attempted to explain what had just happened, but mostly I was just blurting and sputtering gasps of air and words that made no sense to anyone.
My boyfriend and his friends just stared at me, until I finally said, “Just follow me.”
They did, and what they saw was just as confusing as my mumbled words moments before. With wide eyes and gaping mouths, they stood frozen, looking at John’s van “parked” in someone’s front lawn, dangerously close to a neighbor’s front door.
Returning to the van unveiled what I did not notice when I was fleeing from it. Just after jumping onto the curb, the van ran over a large rubber trash can, which became lodged under the rear bumper. The result of this perfectly-placed can was lifted rear tires and a stalled van. What at first appeared to be a disastrous turn toward an innocent home, actually brought a safe resolution to a potentially destructive afternoon. We yanked the trash can out from under the van. I moved the dented trashcan back to the sidewalk and then I tossed the keys to my boyfriend.
“Thanks. I will walk home,” I said.
I returned back to John’s house where I found the girlfriend’s car still parked in the same spot and the oblivious girlfriend still sitting on the couch.
What could have been a life-changing moment for me and for those in the house, or anyone else who may have happened to be on the wrong street that afternoon, is now just a humorous story that my husband and I can laugh about. Not a belly bursting laugh that ends in tears of joy, but a hesitant laugh that ends with a deep breath and a haunting awareness of what could have happened. Since this occurred pre-porch camera era and having never shared the details of that afternoon with the “fortunate” neighbors, this is only our story to laugh about. The neighbors may have been baffled by their dented trashcan, but little did they know, it could have been much worse. Thanks to my guardian angels for running beside me. Thanks to God for answering the call, just in time.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my story about a run-away van and a frantic prayer answered, just in time. My van experience affirmed my belief in a higher power and taught me to never walk away from a running vehicle. 😳
Stay safe, be well, and find healthy escapes whenever you can. May you continue to find inspiration and continue to make connections during this fragmented existence. Michele ❤️
Picture 1: “Lanterns at the Lake” – released lanterns at Lake Pleasant Harbor (2019) Picture 2: Daughter’s van that she refurbished into an amazing tiny house and then sold to a traveling poker player (since the van in this story is long gone and any evidence of it, is also long gone) Picture 3: “Attending” the NAPT poetry conference – reading one of my poems and connecting with poets around the world (4/3). Welcome to our Zoom life. 🙃
Copyright © 2020 Michele Lee Sefton. All Rights Reserved.