Carry Me Home

Thu, 01/02/2020 - 5:00pm

The Thursday before Christmas I intended to go to the mainland to have my car inspected. I watched the weather and fretted for days beforehand, tracking a forecast of wind and deep cold that held steady. The latter did not make me happy but it was the former that caused worry.

The day before I, alone, seemed to be concerned, “no” I kept telling people, I was not worried about getting stuck on the mainland, it was wind reaching deeper into the morning and looking to threaten only the first boats, without which my excursion was impossible.

It would be fine, others planning to be on that same boat assured me, maybe a little rough. And I was taking the easiest course, an app on my phone presented by the quick to over-exaggerate Weather Channel, so perhaps my anxiousness was for naught.

At four o'clock Thursday morning I woke to raging wind and knew while it might die enough to allow the 8:15 a.m. departing here there was no way the boat would be sailing from Galilee at 6:30 a.m. I started monitoring social media for some early statement from Interstate — or the Ferry Dock Scribbler, who did not disappoint with a 5:47 a.m. Facebook posting.

To my amazement, I was able to reschedule both my inspection appointment and my car reservations for the next long round trip day. I had not been away in a very long time and someone asked if I was nervous about driving on the mainland (I wanted to respond “Well, I wasn't!”). Reminded that Route 1 can be a speed trap, I did rethink my general rule of going no faster than the car ahead of me — unless it's going really slow. Maybe the false start was a good thing.

The wind died, the boats began running mid-day, I listened to news of a horrific shooting in Westerly and saw that there were lock downs until the shooter, a victim of his own violence, was found but it took someone else reminding me that had been my destination for me to make the connection. I know would not have been caught in crossfire but I had spare time before the appointment and could easily have gotten stuck in a road block where my “I have to catch a boat” card would not have worked and the day could have unravelled.

had rescheduled to Dec. 23. It seemed a Christmas Miracle, an excellent plan, especially as I needed this done before the end of the year. Somehow, I was so pleased to have a plan — and a much better forecast — that the fact that the 23rd is the day before Christmas Eve eluded me. How busy could it be, I had secured both an appointment and reservations?

Monday came, with it an uneventful boat ride, an easy trip on a December morning. All was fine, the little gas light came on when I drove past the vast beach parking lot, not after-hours on a Block Island Saturday in winter or when I was on Route 1. At Cumberland Farms the little door protecting the gas cap wouldn't open, no matter how many times I tried to release it. It did finally budge, with an assist from a fellow who pulled up at the next pump. Thankfully, the little plaza was not, as it can be, filled with people I know willing to tell me this is what happens when I cross the water.

It was not a good omen. I was, after all, going to have my car inspected. Nothing seemed to be wrong but I had heard such horror stories I was going to the only place where I might have a fractional “you sold me this car” leverage, hence the trip to Westerly.

There were a couple of hiccups, I had to make a phone call, more to be talked in off the ledge confirming what I was being told was nonsense than anything else, then all was on track and I went off for lunch with a friend who lives nearby.

returned to get my car with its new inspection sticker, and went off pleased that nothing had been found, the routine overdue maintenance had been completed without incident; and I was no longer worried about being arrested — what would happen to Autumn if I was in car jail on the mainland?

Luckily, I stayed in town for a bit, went into a few exceedingly hot stores — why is every place not comfortable or warm but freaking hot, and how had I forgotten that — then happened to turn into the sun and flipped on my windshield washer and wipers and what the heck!? I had specifically asked the wiper blades be replaced, they had begun to ravel the day previous, but these new ones were worse, clunking instead of swishing.

So back to the dealer I went, and did use that “I have to catch a boat” card. Soon enough the guy who had given me the “there is nothing wrong with your wipers” look came back sheepishly acknowledging they had been defective. He seemed genuinely surprised.

The traffic is always horrid at the airport/95 connector intersection in Westerly so that it was Dec. 23 still did not really hit me until I got back to Narragansett and walked into Marshalls where the checkout line was exceedingly long. I've never seen it not long and it moves quickly but this was way more than doubled, and I walked out dismissing consideration of the Stop & Shop.

When again I reached the last-stop Cumberland Farms, with time to spare, I decided the day had just been too long and, instead of topping off my gas, I bought just a cup of coffee, a chocolate bar and a Providence Journal — I was later horrified to realize was all of 24 pages — and headed down the Escape Road, back to the boat that would carry me home