Monday, April 19, 2010

Ruth Demarest Godfrey: Dark Confusion

During the years we lived in New Jersey, it was our custom to travel to Vermont whenever we could and spent time with my family there. In our many trips to Vermont, Harrison always did the driving. I had absolute faith that he would deliver us to our destination in good shape and expeditiously. I never paid any attention at all to the route. I felt that the dear man was capable and dedicated to the job, and I didn't need to concern myself with details, so I didn't. Also, since my very young years, I have had a habit of falling asleep when sitting. It's almost as though there is a switch on my bottom, which gets flipped when I sit down. This unfortunate reaction is exacerbated by being in any vehicle that is in motion, be it a car, a bus, a train or an airplane. Morpheus does not take over, however, when I am lying in a comfortable bed in prone position. Morpheus loses interest in me then, and I sometimes lie for hours unable to fall asleep. At any rate, much of my travel time is absorbed in sleeping, even when I try to stay awake. I am using this as an excuse for my extreme ignorance about the travel route which we had taken so frequently over the years.

Our son Charles was living in Boston at this particular time and asked us to bring up his beloved Datsun Z to Vermont. This meant that I would need to drive our family car, while my husband drove the Datsun. Harrison was more than happy to drive this sporty little vehicle. When the decision was made that I would be driving the family car, and would be the sole occupant, I voiced some uncertainty about my ability to do so. My dear husband reassured me, saying, "Of course you know the way! Anyway, I will be coming along right behind you and will be able to direct you."

About a quarter of the way up the New York Thruway, a zippy little Datsun, with my husband at the wheel, passed me and, with a merry wave of the hand, he was gone. By now suffused with great confidence, I did not worry. I drove along and made no false moves until I arrived in Rutland. This had involved several changes in direction, and each time I survived one of these, my confidence grew. However, in those days one needed to make a left turn from the middle of the city of Rutland in order to get up to Route 4 to continue the journey. When I got there I found myself uncertain about which left turn I should take. I took one, only to realize very soon that I was going the wrong way on a one-way street. I turned around and went back down into the city. The second left I tried turned out to be the correct one.

I proceeded up over Mendon Mountain and down the other side without incident or error. When I arrived at the intersection of routes 100 and 107, however, I decided on the wrong one. Very soon, in fact immediately, I realized it was wrong and I pulled over. As I sat there, wondering what to do, a car pulled up beside me. My thoughts ran thusly: "Well, here I am in the middle of the night on a lonely road, and some guy is going to kill me (or something)." Just then, the occupant of the other car rolled down his window and I heard a very familiar voice say, "Are you lost, lady?"

What a relief! My beloved husband had come to my rescue!

Feeling like an utter fool, I backed up and got on the right road and arrived at our destination safely. My husband told me later that he had known all along exactly what I was doing. He was pulled into a driveway in Rutland when I took the wrong-way street. He was pulled off the road on the mountain when I drove past, and he had followed me to the point where I chose the wrong route at the intersection. Although I thought he had abandoned me to my fate, he had been watching over me the whole time! I have since made the trip from Vermont to New Jersey innumerable times and, most of the time, have not been lost. A couple of times, at the New Jersey end, I had some interesting experiences, but that was only because my son had moved to another town, and that baffled me.

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