This isn’t what I signed up for when Sam (is a dog) and I moved to the Tiny White Box in August. Even in those balmy late-summer days, one of the real reasons for choosing Pittsburg, NH, was anticipating high winds, blowing snow and sub-subzero temperatures. Today, Pittsburg has them. And I don’t.
This New Year’s Week began with sickness—I slept most of New Year’s Day, with congestion, coughing, achiness, etc., and had to cancel a meeting in Colebrook with my friend, Ted. Tuesday, I got out of bed feeling 70% better—until the phone rang. It was my friend, Jennifer, who had just gotten a New Year’s greeting from her employer—To save money, we’re contracting out your job. Please leave immediately. Don’t pass go. You can collect your last paycheck at the allotted time. While Jennifer and I aren’t close close, I’ve always seen myself as a kind of mentor to her—she’s creative and nutty, so that’s not as far-fetched as it seems. When I heard her crying and screaming about what had happened, I asked her if she wanted me to drive down to Concord to be with her. She said, yes, please, so Sam and I took about five minutes to pack and jumped into the Jeep. That was Tuesday, 10 am.
Now, about the Jeep. It’s a 2000 Cherokee Sport I bought two years ago at auction. It hasn’t been a money pit, but it’s old enough that “normal wear and tear” is the equivalent of “time to buy a new one.” Given a Pittsburg temperature of -10, it’s only right the Jeep’s heater motor would buy the farm as we were leaving, meaning Sam and I had four hours in a vehicle with only gravity-feed heating. I know the old adage, instead of complaining about the cold, imagine the man who has no Jeep. Still. I called down to our Manchester mechanic and arranged for him to put in a new motor Wednesday morning, before we drove north. This was by Tuesday, 5 pm.
I went to Jennifer’s apartment at 6:30 or so, and offered what comfort I could, and encouraging her to see the silver lining. When Sam and I left by 8, Jennifer was thinking about the future instead of focusing on the wrong she was done. I don’t know if I get any credit for this, but at least I don’t think I did any harm.
We spent Tuesday night at my daughter, Becca’s, and got up early Wednesday, intending to get the motor replaced, come back to load the Jeep, and be on our way. Good intentions. The motor took an hour and a couple hundred bucks, and we got back to Becca’s at 11, only to discover I’d left the apartment key inside. Behind a locked door. Along with my computer. With Becca working at UNH. Forty-five minutes away.
Instead of calling Jennifer, weeping with frustration, I called Becca, who said she’d be home around 5:30. I offered to make her a quick dinner before Sam and I finally left for the Tiny White Box. We now had a free day in Manchester, so I bought wild rice, mushrooms and greens for dinner, and spent most of the afternoon with daughter Libby. I then went to a Starbucks to kill time until Becca got home.
When Becca came in, she said she needed to go to the gym before dinner, and since wild rice takes an hour or so to cook, it became clear Sam and I wouldn’t be on the road until 9 pm at the earliest, with a blizzard scheduled for the next day—today. I contacted my friend, Doc, up in Pittsburg, who said he’d check on the Tiny White Box when I told him Sam and I wouldn’t be back before Friday afternoon.
Which brings me to now. Sam, is sleeping on a bed in Becca’s living room, I’m stuffed with too much pizza—hamburg and anchovy, if you’re interested—and a beautiful blizzard rages outside. We plan to leave Manchester tomorrow by mid-morning, but since we hadn’t planned anything bigger than a walk Tuesday morning, I think it’s clea our plans are simply God’s punchlines.