Dateland: Safe Harbor



Driving home with my dogs in a blizzard a few weeks ago, my car was sideswiped by a semi. As my car spun out of control and crossed all lanes of traffic in a mad pirouette, my first thought was that the dogs and I were going to die. My second thought was that I couldn’t believe I owned the car for three years and had never managed to find the button to open the back hatch. I always had to open it with the key.

Then, I thought about how disappointing this was given that I had just gotten married. My spouse would be furious at me for getting myself killed. She told me not to drive in the blizzard and I did anyway. I was going to die knowing that she was right and I was wrong. I was already mad with her about something else, and this just made me more peeved.

Miraculously, the car slammed into a guard rail instead of another vehicle, and while the action totaled the car, the dogs and I were unharmed.

It was 1:00 a.m. and the accident left us stranded on a highway that bisected the dark heart of an industrial wasteland. The only thing I could see through the snow were the grim outlines of the steel factories, belching out fire and smoke.

I called roadside assistance. Because we were in the middle of a blizzard and unharmed, I was told that a tow truck wouldn’t arrive for several hours. I gazed helplessly at the storm swirling around me.

The car crashed just off an exit. However, this exit was typically only used by the Mafia, who for decades used the toxic landscape around the factories to dump the bodies of their victims.

In the distance, I saw the neon glow of what looked to be a motel. I sighed with relief. Safe harbor! I gathered the dogs and we ventured out into the squall.

It’s probably important to note that before we left the car, I texted my spouse and told her what happened. And then I pretty much ignored her alarmed responses and overtures to help me figure out an escape plan.

Why? Because I’m self-sufficient! I’m a rugged individualist! I need no one! And, yes, I’m an idiot.

We had bickered earlier in the evening about something stupid. And now I was punishing her by not letting her help me out of this crisis. Because even though I am 52 years old, I’m still a baby.

The dogs and I managed to get to the motel, which was exactly as scary as I deserved. It was a sex and drugs hangout that rented rooms by the hour, but the manager was kind and forgave his “no pets” policy to give us shelter for the night.

Later that morning, after the tow truck finally arrived, the dogs and I took an Uber home. It was a 40-mile drive so I had a lot of time to harden for my homecoming. I planned to walk into the house with studied nonchalance, rebuffing any warmth or comfort from my spouse.

But, as soon as I entered, she grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. I tried to squirm out of her embrace, but her love worked like kryptonite against my superpowers of pride and stubbornness. I melted into her.

Even though I had gone through a wedding ceremony a few weeks before, I didn’t fully grasp what it is to be married until that moment. It is that warm glow you spot in a storm that lets you know you’ve finally found your safe harbor.

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