So much to say

...but barely the internet to share it! I feel like our whole married life, we have always had a plague of things not working. There have been months without internet, phone service, cell phone service, power, water- we pay our bills! I just feel like we've got the short of the stick on having things work out for us.
I do have to admit I would much rather go without little things than have to deal with a huge trial all at once. As of late, however, the little trial we've been dealing with has really turned pretty big.

For those of you who don't already know, our poor car, Giuseppe died in the desert. "How?", you ask? Well folks, buckle up for a bumpy ride!

Kaitlin and I spent a glorious time in Lake Tahoe and Yellowstone with our family. Jimmy couldn't make it because of school and work. Driving to Utah on my own is not new. I actually prefer it because I get to pick out all the music. As we were making the long trek back to California, I was getting really excited with the time I was making. Kaitlin was being so good and I only had one more stop to make for gas. Yay! Golden state, here we come!!! (We are the golden state, right? Sunshine? Goodness, this is terrible)
Just as I was pulling of the highway to get gas, the car's engine light turned on and the car turned off... within two seconds (or less!). I had to pop the car into neutral and push it off to the side of the road. Now, I am a pretty brave girl- excluding my encounter with spiders- but I got scared for a few reasons.
1) It was just me and Kate
2) It was high noon with no shade in sight
3) The only landmarks were abandoned buildings
4) Iwasinthedesertallbymyself!!!!

The first thing I did after the initial panic attack was to pray. Then in short succession: called Jimmy, called parents, called roadside assistance.
Roadside assistance has a slight problem assisting when there are no landmarks. "Dilapidated building" does not pop up on their monitor. After much back and forth, the lady on the phone informed me that the closest tow truck was four hours away. FOUR HOURS!!! Ahhhh! Luckily, my sweet sister-in-law packed us a bag of snacks and we had just happened to buy board games in Utah. So, Kaitlin and I played games (with our seat belts on, thank you very much) and ate. In all other circumstances, I would be thrilled to spend four hours doing just that. But, I was stuck in the freaking desert!!!!
*I will have you know that in this entire situation, all panic attacks and freak outs occurred in my head. As far as Kaitlin was concerned, this was all a big, fun adventure. More on my total break down in a minute.*
Anyway, back to my demise... the tow truck driver showed up and hooked up my poor car. Little did I know before then that he was the one to pick me up because of the ample seat belts in his cab. Well, we climbed into the seat belted and air conditioned (hallelujah!) truck cab only to discover that there was only one working seat belt. Kaitlin being the youngest and cutest, of course got dibs on the safety device. I am sure that my mumbling something like, "drive safely", to the driver did not express all that was going through my head... the thoughts like, if I have to die now, why couldn't have been trekking to find water for my parched daughter by digging a hole and getting bitten by a rattle snake?! Or possibly, Kaitlin could not possibly losing her mother this far from home! She would have to hitchhike back to California through all the casinos and rest stops on the way. I don't think my life insurance would cover all her therapy...
Optimism is usually my strong point, but right now the glass was looking bone dry- from being stranded in the desert!
Another two hour ride took us to the nearest place with the ability to check out the car. In Sparks, Nevada, Kate and I were dropped off at a mechanic shop with quite possibly the two cutest mechanics I have ever seen. Well, maybe... I don't know it might have been a mirage from being in the deser.... Alright, alright, I will stop with desert references.

We were informed that the car was fixable for a fee double than what the car was worth (niiice!) and had decided to camp out in Sparks until we could figure something out. I called our amazing Bishop, who also happens to own a car dealership, looking for advice. By now, my resistance to falling apart was wearing thin- but everything was being held together. Because, really, who wants to have an ugly break down right in front of two cute mechanics? "Not I." said the pig.
So, after much finagling and multiple calls to multiple people, the solution was this: Kate and I would sleep in Sparks, our blessed home teacher would drive with Jimmy in the morning to come get us and tow the car home on his huge truck. Ahhh, relief! This solution seemed to be an answer to prayers.

After spending so much time at the mechanics shop, it was time I bid the fellas adieu. Except that we had been there so long that the shift change replaced our young cute mechanics with a couple more seasoned mechanics. I asked if there was a hotel near by. They gave me the name of a very respectful establishment, I'm sure.

We were picked up my the hotel's shuttle and carted off to our next drop off. As Kailtin and I approached the gated (and barbed wire) parking lot, my resolve had started to crumble. It had been 9 hours since my car broke down and I could feel all the emotion I had worked so hard to suppress bubble up to the surface. But, I would be okay... I would be okay.
It was upon having to walk my daughter into a casino to register for a room that I really started to lose it. I smiled and explained my story to multiple people that kept exclaiming, "Wow! I can't believe you're still smiling! Good Luck!" until we found the right desk to register at.
Armed with a room key and the little snack bag that was running dangerously low, we headed toward our room.
My clipped gait, I am sure clued Kaitlin into the way I was feeling, rather than the fake smile plastered on my face. Her little face started to reflect the fear, unsurety and exhaustion I was feeling. We made it without a single tear to the room. But, once I opened the door and saw the zebra carpet, it was all over. I lost it. In every glance, I took in more of this scary place. The chipped black lacquered night stand. The multiple deadbolts. The peeling wall paper. With each scene, my outlook was more grim. For every moment I had suppressed a negative feeling, a rumbling sob would burst out. The hardest part was seeing sweet Kaitlin's face crumple. I think there is nothing worse for a parent, than to see a child's composure melt from off their face.

Once we (sort of) pulled it together, Kaitlin and I walked a few blocks to a diner to eat. It had been a really long time since we ate and there was no way I would take my sweet little girl through the casino again to eat something. Maybe that would have been the better alternative, seeing as we passed two drunkards and a very questionable man that kept following us. Luckily, we made it safely to and from dinner.

We slept fitfully and spent most of the night talking to daddy on the phone. I checked the four dead bolts more times than I remember. But all in all, we made it home with little more than a few tears. I am grateful that even though bad things happened, they happened in the best possible way and I am keenly aware of the fact that we were constantly being protected by our Father in Heaven. It was terrifying, yes, but without the Holy Ghost, I am sure the story would have been so different.

Now I would like to tell you that the experience of being stranded in a scary place with only dirty sheets and cheap cable as my comfort was the most difficult part of the whole situation. 'Twas not my friends, 'twas not.
The hardest part has been dealing with one car for a few months. Everyday, I feel like things get more hectic and I have reached my breaking point. Every time something new decides not work (like my ultimate and best blender ever within two days of the grill), I think I can't make it another minute. Each time the money we have set aside for something frivolous goes to something necessary, the bleakness almost overtakes me. But it doesn't. We move on. We laugh. We enjoy what we have. And I look forward with faith to meet all my deserts in life with the courage to get through. And with seat belts. Always seat belts.


The Lilly's said...

Oh my gosh, I'm so glad that I read this story now that I'm home, safe and sound. My kids and I drove to Napa last weekend by ourselves (Steve flew out later) and my absolute WORST nightmare is that the car would break down in the middle of the desert!
Way to keep it together, I'm sure it took every ounce of strength!
By the way, all the food at the reception was AMAZING, several people commented on it. My daughter has already requested that you cater her wedding (I guess that means she'd better find a boy that lives in Napa, I don't think you'll want to travel I-80 to Utah for a long, long time!)

Matt and Melissa said...

I'm so sorry Steph that you've had such a rough two months. I'm glad you made it back safely. I know Heavenly Father was watching over you and Kaitlin. I love you sister and I'm proud of your courage. I also can't wait to see you for this upcoming very special weekend!