Wednesday, March 27, 2013

airport run

This past Sunday's birth was stressful. I am still new enough at this that I tend to be a little nervous after-the-fact when I see something new happen. The "what if" game is dumb, but I play it with such excellence. The more you take part in birth the more you learn and the more the complications become a part of your normal. When I am being rational I know that it is true.  Normal, easy birth was once stressful too.

Thanks to Jesus and the people He uses, it all ended well and both Mom and Babe are fine.  I don't want to be melodramatic, I mainly want to communicate that those intense births zap you of your natural adrenaline and for about a day afterward (two?) you guess that if someone gave you a breathalyzer they'd determine you were over the legal limit and send you back to bed. You just feel punch-drunk and odd. 

I had a hard time turning the birth adrenaline off and did not sleep very long or well Sunday night.

Monday morning the alarm went off.  I rolled over to do what I do first every day.  Sadly it is not to pray or grab my Bible or kiss my husband.

I grabbed my phone, turned off the alarm and checked email on the phone with my good right eye.  Some days I am checking for important reasons, other days out of habit.  On this day I was checking to see if the American Airlines flight I was waiting on would be arriving on time. 

On occasion someone will write to us and say, "I am coming through the Port au Prince airport, what can I bring?"  This person, my friend Shelly, was coming to finish her adoption and I asked if my mom could please mail a birthday gift for Noah to her.  Beth asked her to bring candy for the annual "Grandma Beth" Easter baskets for the kids tradition.  Shelly graciously agreed to carry those items in and took a few other last minute requests in stride.

After my feet were on the ground I called Melissa, the nurse midwife and friend I work with at the Maternity Center.  We had been sharing Beth's truck while she was in the USA watching her grandson be born.  Melissa said, "Sorry Tara, I just tried and Beth's truck will not start."  I sighed. The vehicle problems never end here.  (We have vehicles. Problems come with them.  The alternative is walking, that is what most of our neighbors do. Of course I recognize my problems are also a problem of privilege)  "Okay. I will figure out a new plan, thanks."  

I asked Troy if we could start school late. He called Jimmy and Becky and explained I needed the one working car we had for a bit to go the other direction from school.  I walked outside to get in the truck and found the tire beyond flat.  It was the disintegrated type of flat, not simply low on air.
By this time the plane was on the ground and I knew traffic could make traveling the short distance problematic.

I instructed the nearest child to go tell Troy the tire was replete of air and started walking toward Heartline's guesthouse.  On the walk I asked the guesthouse manager if she could allow me less than one hour use of the van.  It was her day off, but she told me I could take it. To cover my communication bases I called one more person to tell them the same thing.

I was buzzing along thinking, "Gee. This is such a cruddy start to the day. Kids are gonna be late, the whole day is off track. What next?"  I wish I had a timer tracking my negative thoughts. It is no exaggeration to guess that within 10 seconds of that thought I heard the crunching sound of my van (not my van technically) scraping another truck.

A vehicle used for public transportation was parked on the right loading passengers.  The driver let his foot of the brake and pulled up ever so slowly at the same time that I was passing. <crunch>  I think it was my fault, not his. The van is long and I think I was moving toward my right turn that was coming up and I moved too soon for the length of that stinkin van. A lot of vehicles in Haiti have custom made giant iron bumpers added onto them.  It is called "defans" -  you get the idea - to defend your car from injury the black metal bars stick out further than your car/truck/van. After the back panel was scraped the defans on my van got caught on his defans. I stopped, backed up two inches, and they ended their brief entanglement.  The driver of the other vehicle motioned for me to pull up and park in front of him on the side of the road.  People watching yelled their opinions about my driving skills. I started shaking like a leaf.  The driver and I talked.  He was nice enough.  I explained to him that my Kreyol is only good for household and women's health issues.

Since I could not find a way to incorporate the words clean, wash, dry, vagina, or contractions into our discussion about the vehicles I begged him to allow my husband to call him to discuss my stupidity later.  I don't negotiate and I don't like numbers - I could easily think I was being asked for 500 dollars when really it was only 500 gourdes. I explained that a person was waiting at the airport for me.  We traded numbers, he told me where he thought I should go get the defans fixed and I drove off without closely examining anything.  I wanted out of there, I wanted to stop shaking, and I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry my eyes out.

A mile down the road I hit one of Haiti's 6 billion potholes and the entire defans fell off on the ground.  Swear word spoken, I pulled over and ran back to pick it up.  I try to do some push ups now and again to sculpt my guns, but even my most Herculean effort could not possibly pick that thing up.  Three guys took pity on me and carried it to the van.  We put it inside the van on top of the rows of seats.

I proceeded to the airport to meet my friend.  I got the bag from her quickly because she had been waiting on me and needed to leave.  I walked back to the van and allowed myself a complete and total cataclysmic melt down. I fell apart in a heap of uncontrolled sobs.

A male friend we once worked with saw me and walked up to tell me "Oh Madame Troy - This is material stuff. Don't cry. Stop!"  I told him to please leave.  I had no intention of pulling it together.

I started looking for John to confess.  I texted Troy to let him know.  I texted Paige. I called Jimmy to ask him if we could call school off altogether. I continued purging tears.

About an hour later Troy arrived to the airport parking lot where I sat with my scraped van with no defans to find my face unrecognizable.  Who knew eyelids can quadruple in size over the course of just one hour? We left the van parked. Troy took me home where I laid down to convulse in tears for a good long time.  I knew it was about more than the van.  I knew it was about a friend leaving Haiti, a hard birth, fears, injustice, and other really hard and unjust things going on with people I love.

  • The van still runs perfectly well and the shop will have it fixed by Friday. 
  • My eyelids are normal size again. 
  • The kids had a really fun  snowday "mom wrecked the van" day off and were thrilled to play with Noah's new gift.  

Factoring the cost of the trip to pick it up, this is the year each child's Easter basket from Beth will be valued at approximately $250  - Noah's legos for his birthday now cost about $300.

Very soon I will find a way to laugh at all that and focus on the only fact that matters: While we have been living in Friday -- Sunday is coming.