Ten Miles Behind Me And Ten Thousand More To Go

On weekdays, someone takes Dara to the bus stop or, if we want to sleep an hour longer, to school. We haven’t slept well. When she was here, Daria took charge of getting Dara to high school but after Daria left, I suddenly had to think about teenager transportation again.

Tata: Shit! We have to get up early because I won’t be able to get home from the high school.
Dara: That would be embarrassing.
Tata: Wait till your friends see my hair done by a cat!
Dara: Am I too young to have a stroke?

Yesterday, we were up before the alarm. I came downstairs and glared at the coffee pot until Dara told me to put on my shoes. The fields all around were blanketed with thick frost. I started the van and could barely reach the pedals but didn’t adjust the seat because everyone who might drive it including Dara is bigger than me. We drove to the end of the steep driveway, where we sat quietly and shivered at a 30 degree angle to the road.

Dara: Put on the parking brake.
Tata: Really? You don’t want to go visit the cows across the street?
Dara: Not without a bun and sauteed mushrooms, no.
Tata: I never use that, living where things are relatively flat. How do I – um – turn it off to go home?
Dara: You press it harder and it releases or there’s a lever without a handle.
Tata: Rock on.

A minute or two later, the bus appeared. Dara and I air kissed. She got on the bus and I thought, “Hot damn, I’m going back to bed now.” But I was wrong, and I couldn’t release the parking brake.

Look, I’m not a genius. A couple of weeks ago, we were desperate to feed Dad anything he’d eat. We searched the grocery stores for ideas, for cream soups, for anything he might take one bite of and it was becoming an obsession for me. Our objective was to keep his cognitive function as clear as we could for as long as we could, and I was working on a premise I may or may not have remembered correctly from Good Eats.

Tata: Brains need protein. Maybe later, we can try spoonfuls of cream.
Darla: Brains need glucose. It’s widely misunderstood.

I blinked a few times.

Tata: I’m pretty wide…

After that, I had to calm down and rethink my obsession. Friday morning, when I pressed the parking brake pedal as far as it would go repeatedly and nothing happened, I tried pulling on the lever without a handle. Nothing. My hands were useless in the cold and without a good grip. I put the van in reverse to see what would happen and I think the cows across the street laughed at me. I sat for a minute, wishing like mad I knew what to do and wishing my hands worked. Then I thought ‘This is Dad’s van. There’s no way in the world he wouldn’t have a tool kit.’ I turned off the van and climbed into the back, where I found a bucket of tools wedged between a seat and the wheelwell – and pliers. That’s all I needed. Getting home from there was a breeze, though I was wide awake.

On Monday, I might drive to school in my pajamas.

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