Thursday, March 4, 2010
Our northern Snohomish County community was nice enough, but we really were the freaks of the neighborhood. Back then, we only had five kids; all of our neighbors had six. We were irresponsible enough to send our kids to public school; our neighbors all homeschooled.
We were preparing to move to the Lake Chelan Valley, and I was protesting the entire plan. No one could understand my resistance, and many asked, “Isn’t your whole family there?” as if that weren’t enough reason for my unwillingness to return.
The truth was, I had a bad feeling about the move. When Murphy penned his famous law, I suspect he had our future move in mind.
Our new house didn’t close in time, but summer soccer practice started right on schedule. That meant getting up with Princess at 3:00 a.m. every weekday morning, making a pot of coffee and driving over Stevens Pass to get to practice in Chelan by 7:00 a.m. There were still a lot of things to be done at the old house before our renters arrived, so after practice we drove three hours home, where I boxed and scrubbed and wallpapered and painted until I fell unconscious.
Our renters couldn’t delay their move-in date, and we had to start moving things out of the house before we actually had a new home to move them into. Mr. Wright rented a storage unit in Chelan and borrowed a friend’s pickup truck to haul boxes and bins over during his inter-county trips between his new office and home.
During a late-night trip over the mountains, Mr. Wright was involved in an accident when another driver fell asleep at the wheel. He wasn’t terribly hurt, but I used the incident as further proof that we shouldn’t be moving.
I was frustrated at having to move everything twice; once into the storage unit, and again into our new house when – and if – it ever closed. Fortunately, someone broke the padlock on the unit and relieved us of many of our possessions, so there wasn’t quite so much to move in the end.
Two days before the renters were due I sat, teary-eyed, in the middle of the living room floor, a gallon of sand-colored paint spilled on the carpet in front of me. I’d only meant to touch up the window sills.
We loaded the last of the boxes into the huge trailer, only to realize there was too much weight, and the tires were beginning to flatten with the pressure. Mr. Wright pulled furniture and bins out, rearranging them, until the weight was more evenly distributed and not directly over the tires.
“The trailer’s too heavy,” I said. “We’re either going to wreck our transmission, bust a tire, or make it on sheer faith.” I called the homeschoolers. Everyone laid hands on the trailer and the Suburban, asking God to provide us with safe travels and mechanical miracles.
We cleared the top of Stevens Pass just after dark. It was all downhill from there, as they say. At the bottom of the hill, Mr. Wright glanced in his side mirror to see a wheel spinning down the road. It passed, crossed in front of us and came to a smashing halt against the guardrail.
“You don’t think…” I began, as Mr. Wright pulled over to the side of the road. I never did finish the sentence. I didn’t have to. We both knew where the wheel had come from.
As we approached the back of the trailer, it was clear that one of the center wheels had come off. We both broke into hysteric, unrestrained laughter that lasted far too long. (Think Tom Hanks in “The Money Pit,” when the bathtub falls through the floor.)
When he could manage words, Mr. Wright took my hand and said, “Let’s go find the lug nuts, Babe,” and we walked and walked up the highway, flashlights piercing the darkness.