The common expression was “partners in crime.” While we didn’t commit any crimes together, my mother and I, (unless you consider the time in Las Vegas when we cashed in the abandoned chips we found on a casino floor), together we made it through some laughable and questionable times, during which she drove the get-a-way car.
My apologies to our North Dakota neighbors, but it was in Fargo the first two times we fled the scene. I was maybe 21 at the time, in search of my first real job after college. I had an interview in Fargo. I was suffering from kidney stones at the time. I knew if I had a flare-up, I wouldn’t be able to drive home. Plus, my mom said, “There’s West Acres.” (Malls always factored into our travel plans.)
I only made it through half the interview when my stone decided to make its presence known. I began to sweat. Nearly doubled over. No longer interested in making a good impression, only making it to the car. I stumbled my way into the back seat. She literally squealed the tires of our light blue Chevy Impala wagon, (purely to tell me she knew how badly I felt) , as I threw up in an empty Folgers can in the back seat. “We can do much better than West Acres,” she said. And I was saved.
My second get-a-way, around the same age, was for an interview of another kind — a date. A friend of a friend. “Oh, you’ll love him…” my friend tried to convince me. Unsuccessfully assured, I asked my mother to come with me. Always up for a road trip, she agreed. She dropped me off at the restaurant and went to the mall. My date, to put it mildly, was as uncomfortable as the stone on the last trip. I was standing outside the restaurant as he explained the intricate details of his expensive car. Unimpressed, I searched the parking lot. And then I saw it. That glorious light blue streak of safety. I waved and speed- walked to my mom’s car. She could see the horror on my face. There was no need to explain. She squealed the tires even louder out of the parking lot. “Well, just to make sure he knows…” she said. We laughed. Again, I was saved.
I mention it only because I thought about it all night. I haven’t had a kidney stone in years, but one came for a visit last night. The extraordinary pain kept me awake for the duration. I kept telling myself it won’t last, it won’t last. When we’re in pain, time seems forever. But when I think about how quickly it has all passed, the years between Fargo and France, I can hear the squeal of time. I can count on my “getting through,” my “getting away,” my “getting beyond,” the moment.
Dominique is here now — my streak of blue — here always to race where needed. I smile. And I am saved.