Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Busy day

By seven thirty last night, I felt like a character in a Richard Scarry picture book. Except much sweatier and with less colorful clothes. But just as busy busy busy. And when it was time to leave to take Holly to her evening library program, I was very sad to wave goodbye to my uneaten dinner.

After I’d worked frantically to complete an article about Fourth of July observances throughout the region, a morning phone interview for which I’d slotted a typical 45 minutes started fifteen minutes late and lasted an hour and a quarter, so by the time I hung up it was noon, and I’d promised Holly a trip to the drugstore before the morning was over (I knew my best bet at getting her to apply sunscreen on a regular basis was if I let her pick out the sunscreen herself, a decision she would doubtlessly base on the color and shape of the bottle).

Back from our CVS run, I made lunch for her and Tim, and then it was time to bring Holly to a friend’s house for the afternoon. I tried not to think too much about Rick’s dire comment that the warning light on the Prius indicated that one of the tires was leaking air and would soon be flat. Just one more trip, I mentally urged the car, and then I promise our next stop will be the mechanic.

But Holly’s friend had just moved to North Chelmsford, and while Chelmsford borders on Carlisle, North Chelmsford borders on Lowell. Needless to say, with my notorious sense of direction, I left North Chelmsford and headed the wrong way; soon I was crossing out of Dracut and into Methuen, rather than out of South Chelmsford and into Carlisle as I’d hoped.

Through Lowell, around the UMass campus, through Dracut, into Methuen, turn around retrace steps, and finally I was on the highway heading toward our mechanic in Littleton. One wrong turn in Littleton, easily corrected at a gas station, and finally I was there…with fifteen minutes to spare before I needed to pick Tim up back at home and bring him to his Little League game in Arlington. I explained my plight to the service department. “The tire pressure warning light is on, but I got lost on the way here and I have no time at all,” I bemoaned.

The technician looked up my records. “You got lost coming from Carlisle to Littleton?” he asked.

“No, I was in Chelmsford but ended up in Methuen.”

“Well, you can’t keep driving around on that tire,” he said. “We’ll get to it as quickly as we can.”

I called Tim and told him to fill his water bottle, put on his uniform, assemble his bat bag and be ready when I returned because we’d have to go straight to the game. I sat on pins and needles in the waiting room, wreaked with anxiety, trying to tell myself again and again that there was simply nothing to do but wait it out. I reminded myself that this was trivial: a car repair, a baseball game; nothing to develop a migraine over. But still, I knew what Rick would say: poor planning. Somehow I should have figured out how to line up the whole day more effectively.

The technician called me over. The tire was repaired, and it was cheap, which was a welcome surprise. I drove to Carlisle, picked up Tim, drove to Arlington, and dropped him off at the field nine minutes before first pitch. The players are supposed to arrive 45 minutes early for warm-ups, but since Rick is normally in charge of baseball transportation for Tim, this was the first time all season – actually probably ever – that he’d arrived late, so I knew he’d be forgiven this once.

Home at last, but I hadn’t yet run my daily mile, so out I went to do that. With a half-hour left before I needed to meet up with Holly for an evening program at the library, I made my go-to quick-meal recipe: pasta with sautéed garlic, cherry tomatoes, arugula and walnuts. Just as I was about to take my first bite of pasta, the phone rang: it was the man who had taken over Old Home Day pie contest duties for me this year, after I decided that I needed a break from that annual responsibility, and he had a lot of questions. I cast longing glances at my plate of pasta as I explained how to prepare the tasting plates for the judges and why I thought the final score should be averaged rather than cumulative. “It’s a pie contest,” I wanted to tell him. “Just do it however you want. It really doesn’t matter.” But I answered his questions as well as I could and then left for the library.

We got home a little before nine and I had time then to eat. The tire was repaired; Tim’s baseball game was over; Holly had enjoyed the library program; my Fourth of July article was filed. Busy day, just like in a Richard Scarry book. But it all ended well. And the pasta was absolutely delicious.

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