The older daughter has a doctor’s appointment an hour and a half away. Because just like you can’t get a direct flight from here to London, sometimes you have to go to another city for a routine medical appointment.
I wear jeans, a black cardigan and grey sneakers. Easy. Just as well not to be distracted. I pack boots in case. The boots are not on the list of the 33 items I have pulled for the month’s fashion challenge, see previous post, but I am not getting frostbitten feet for the sake of “rules.”
Shopping is partly about the illusion of control. The week starts out with a survivalist determination, keeping the cars filled, the phones charged. I go buy most of the things that you should carry in your car. On the rare days when my windshield freezes over, I scrape it with whatever I can find, the unreturned hotel keycard, a squeegee, a hot tea towel. It’s time for an ice scraper and a brush. I buy a small bag of cat litter and a tow rope (that’s insane) and I pack sleeping bags.
I have driven this way many times but never alone or just with a child, never with instructions for clearing snow out of the tailpipe. There are a lot of trucks. We go by the sign for thegolfchurch.com and the most ancient Stuckey’s billboard with it’s sunfaded, blistered illustration of ice cream sundaes. Heavy raindrops splatter down at one point, but then stop. At Gardendale, the most truly enormous tallest cement cross hoves into sight and slips away.
We arrive. The weather is in abeyance. The hospital is designed to not feel like a hospital. The lobby has a cathedral ceiling with a sweep of glass and a curving reception desk.
Shopping for clothes is also about the illusion of control. The interview suit, the lucky boots, the perfect lipstick. Like shopping for milk and bread, or beer and dog food, however you imagine your disaster scenario. When I go to the supermarket the next day there has been a run on organic, free range eggs.
We shop to be prepared, to undertake an activity of preparation, scurrying about on the darkening roads, as if there were something we could do to stave off whatever is gathering in the clouds and signified by the rainbow filled shapes that pulse over the map with every weather report.
When the weather advisory lifts, will we be overwhelmed by choices?
Sitting in the consultation room we are without windows to watch the rain begin or hear the quickening rattle of sleet. We have made it this far. We’ll just have to see.
When we come out, the sky is grainy but dry. I drive and drive until at last the bridge over the Tennessee River rises up before us and we are on the final road home. And so there is no need for the sleeping bags, the boots, the tow rope, which have offered the illusion of protection, like the other half of my closet, packed with clothes for other seasons, other occasions. Each day is it’s own journey, what you wear, what you carry, what you leave behind. No one can ever accurately predict exactly what you will need, not even you.
Photo of the GFBC cross by Ben Tate via Panoramio, with permission.