One is tempted to call this the "Modesto Adventure"...
(This entry includes the dreaded "R" word. Vicky hates when I mention the "R" word. But I tried to write this without it and realized that I couldn't. It feels like lying - and I'm not a big fan of that.)
Just so you know, I saw this coming. Weeks ago, I told Vicky that something was coming. And between my recent rash of sleepwalking and the insomnia Friday night, I should have realized...
Friday night was my last night at home. Vicky and I knew that. So, we decided to have a nice evening together before I drove up to Modesto. Sure, I'd only be gone for a couple of days but I knew I'd miss Vic. I love her so much and I know she loves me - sometimes it's hard for us to make it through the day without calling each other a few times.
We had dinner together at El Torito - not exactly a nice evening out but we were together, which is what mattered. Then, we went home. At around 9pm, I went up to the bedroom, ready for a proper send-off... Vicky was playing Sudoku. (This game is the DEVIL! Don't play it unless you want to become an addict! It's worse than heroin!) I knew she was in the middle of the game but I started talking to her - disturbing her - anyway. Next thing I knew, my head was being cleanly severed at the shoulders.
And, after she got mad, I got mad.
So much for a proper send-off...
In fact, I couldn't stand to be in the same room with her. I went downstairs, watched some TV, played some World of Warcraft... didn't sleep. Couldn't sleep.
By 4am, I decided to get an early start. I packed up my car, went up to say goodbye and apologize to Vicky but she was deeply asleep, and I was off.
I hate driving in the dark because I might as well be tucked in for all the help I get staying awake. I get very sleepy. The sun didn't even start to poke its head over the mountains until, well, until I was in the mountains! I was going through the grapevine!
And that's when the first hallucination came.
Now, this is where I begin to worry. Some of Vicky's friends may read this. They know me as this boring guy who considers himself a failure - which is my way of saying their opinion of me is low enough already, you know? Why should I make it worse? They don't know the guy who nearly killed himself or the guy who crashed a funeral... and on and on. But the older I get, the more I realize that's part of who I am today.
All I can ask them is "Be gentle", which is good advice the world over.
So, there I was, on the grapevine.
And I look over.
And there she is, sitting by my side just like she used to: Rosa. And I realize that I'm driving somewhere with her. I say, "I didn't expect to see you." And she begins to talk.
Her words are old, familiar. She's telling me about how my love is like a freight train. It's over powering, indomitable, terrifying. That's how she thinks of me.
And by the time she's gone, and I'm taking the 99 north to Modesto, I realize why Vicky snapped my head off, why she needs time away from me sometimes. I am over powering. I'm coming on like a freight train. And I need to stop that - or I'll turn her into Rosa - and I couldn't bear that.
Which is when I start to cry.
Now, it doesn't help that I'm listening to "The Time Traveler's Wife", which is this incredible book that reduces me to blubbering without the assistance of any hallucinations! I'm wiping tears from my face, not because of Rosa but because of Vicky and how I don't dare risk screwing that up.
My mind is an interesting place. Thankfully, it's not as interesting as it used to be - things get too interesting and you're fitted for a white coat. After my nervous breakdown, I was talking to people who weren't there for over a year. Now, it only happens rarely, which is a very good thing.
Saturday morning, it happened more than rarely.
I say this because, very shortly, my tears were met by another visitor: Sean Roberson. He and I were heading to Las Vegas to visit Tim Murphy. This was years ago... many, many years ago. But there we were. And when I say "there we were", it's not hyperbole. It's kind of like what happens when you zone off. But I don't freak out about it, I try to think of these things happening for a reason my conscious mind doesn't know about, as if my subconscious is trying to tell me something. So, I had told Sean to shut up at the beginning of our trip and we're nearing the end of our trip and I'm just figuring out why he wasn't talking and, soon, we were laughing our asses off. (The lengths that he went through for that one joke!)
And then, no more tears.
Seconds later, I'm lying in bed, several nights ago, and Vicky is kissing the back of my neck. And it made me feel so secure, so happy, and so loved.
And here come those tears again.
But then, it's over. I drive past Pixley, Fresno, and on and on. And I'm fine.
When the last hallucination hits, it's like a hammer. It's like one of those falling dreams... but I'm awake, right? One second I'm driving... and the next... I'm in my living room. I'm laughing. Two, little girls are running around and they are laughing. Vicky is looking at us like we're idiots.
Children have always frightened me. They make me very uncomfortable. Vicky and I are supposed to start "trying" for a child in March. As it gets closer, I've been wondering how the hell I got myself into this and...
I realized I want children. Lots of children. I want lots and lots of children. And I know this because I have enough love for more than one person and Vicky is just the right person to be the mother. And everything...
Everything is going to be all right.
It hit me like a hammer to the back of the head.
Everything is going to be all right. I can do this. I don't need to be afraid.
Can you imagine me thinking that?
The weekend flew by, of course. I was visiting Keith and Julie and we had a lot of fun. I started working on the re-writes for "No More Blue Roses". I had a great dream about Vicky when I finally slept. Julie fixed me breakfast before I left Sunday morning and then... I was on my way...
I picked up some fig newtons at a gas station - god, those are good!
The car gobbled up miles of the 99 as I drove south, passing miles of homes. This region is no longer such a breadbasket. But then, I began passing trees - miles of blossoms - were they almonds? What were they? I don't know.
I just saw the blossoms.
Millions of them.
In the front yard of my old house. There I stood, with my favorite tree, a cherry tree. And then, more came down, and I was under the tree in front of the house where Vicky and I live, sitting with our little girl, drinking from a juice box.
That was the last solid hallucination. After that, they only brushed up against my face. Vicky. Ocean Beach. My old study. I was driving through them but they had no hold. I was feeling great. No cares. Just looking forward to seeing Vicky. Looking forward to March. Knowing where our lives might lead. Boy or girl, it didn't matter. It was going to be okay. Rosa thought of it as a freight train - but now I realized that this also meant that I have enough love for a child. I'll be okay as a dad. I actually might not fuck it up.
Which is when I felt it peel off me like a film, like Elmer's Glue... the failures of my family, the failures with children. Of course, I'd been afraid! My dad wasn't a great parent. My mom was left without support. My brother and sister sucked at it. I realized what it was... and it seemed so silly.
It also distracted me from my driving at the worst time. I was on the 210, in the worst possible lane, just as I saw the lane where it deviated to the right... and I was going the wrong way!
And it made me laugh.
I took a random turn. Then, another.
And I found myself on "Historical Route 66", which brought a smile to my face. After all, I was doing the re-writes on "No More Blue Roses", a book that takes place on "Historical Route 66". And I remembered the trip Vicky and I took out there - and she felt very close.
So, I headed home.