I’m driving along, after spending a lovely time dreaming up mischief and talking writing with my good friend Tameri Etherton (stopped by for 20 minutes, ended up staying 2 & 1/2 hours…). I’m heading home after a fabulous weekend in San Diego with the hubs.
And I’m getting sleepy. Oh man. This isn’t good. So I change up the radio stations. First the news, then National Public Radio, then Country Music (don’t judge), back and forth, back and forth. It doesn’t work, though. So I dig through my cds and find a vocal warmup one that I had borrowed from my hubby.
That worked. Kind of. I mean, when you sing in the car, really vocalize, it’s tiring. You’re also bringing in a lot of oxygen into your system, so you wake up. Weird, but usually it works for me.
This time, I became aware of another pressing need. A bathroom, to be precise. But I’m on the 5 North. Not the friendliest freeway. Besides, I went through Werner Erhardt’s est program. I could hold it. I’d been trained. (Okay, it was 33 years ago, but still…) I cursed the black cherry Steaz that Tameri had kindly given me from her stash. I could do this. I’m famous for not stopping while making the LA/San Diego drive. I could so make it all the way home without stopping.
I decided to sing some more. Except that put pressure on my bladder. So I concentrated on the radio, and there was something about coral reefs, how the rise in acids in the ocean is killing them, and there was the sound of rushing water over the reefs. I changed the channel. A song came on about every storm having an end. Rain. Sheesh.
On the news channel, they talked about how this is the fourth dry year in a row, and how we need rain. The fire danger is higher, and fire companies are bringing in the big belly helicopters early in preparation. More water. Okay, seriously?
By this time, I had the lap part of my seat belt gripped in my hand just under my breasts, so it wouldn’t press on my bladder. I survived the 101-5 split, and made my way through the zoo area (Zoo parking lot full! Zoo entrance backed up!) – where the traffic slowed to a crawl. I believe I started to whimper.
Not only is my bladder in pain, but so are my kidneys. My liver is chuckling (because usually it’s the one feeling the pain) and my kidneys are threatening to go on strike and my bladder says it has a bomb and is going to explode my entire body if I don’t get to a bathroom like NOW. I deal with thoughts of just letting go, but replacing the front seat isn’t in the budget and I didn’t want to even think of how long it would take to get the urine smell out of my car.
Burbank. Speeds picked up, but I don’t know Burbank at all. I don’t know where the fast bathrooms are, or where I can find the easiest off/on to the freeway. So I kept going, but by now I’m desperately looking for a likely place to pull over.
Traffic slows to a crawl again, and I saw a sign – Lankershim, 2 miles. Okay, I know Lankershim. I can get off at Lankershim, and surely – even though I’m a couple miles north of the area of Lankershim that I know – SURELY there will be some place for me to go.
I’m getting threatening texts from my bladder which I have to ignore because I don’t want a $159 ticket. My kidneys are complaining about a back-up in the system. My spleen is looking on in amusement, while my gall bladder is considering joining up with my bladder in the “blow up the body” game.
I hang on grimly to the lap belt and finally reach the Lankershim off ramp. I come to the stop sign, and my heart falls down to cozy up against my stomach which doesn’t have room because my bladder is so fracking big by now. I land in an industrial area. Oh, help.
I look left, toward North Hollywood. Nothing. The road curved around and I couldn’t see much. At this point, I would take a dense thicket of bushes to pee behind, but I didn’t see any of those, either. Just a lot of concrete and asphalt and, thank goodness, a 5 North onramp on the other side of the street.
I look to my right – and there, shining and pure white and looking absolutely gorgeous in all its glory, is a privately-owned gas station (no tall sign visible from the freeway). Surely there is a bathroom. I turn right, pull in, park, lock the car, and waddle in (feeling about twenty years’ pregnant by this point). I ask for the bathroom and I’m given a token.
At first, the token didn’t work – panic threatened – but then it did. I got inside, locked the door, set my purse down, and finally got some sweet relief. As the minutes tick by and my bladder empties itself, I note my sunglasses, sitting on the counter. And I think, that was stupid, I should have put them on my head. But all in all, if I end up leaving them behind, it would be a trade well worth it.
Twenty minutes later my bladder finally sighs in happy relief. My kidneys still aren’t talking to me, but they aren’t screaming for my imminent death anymore, either. My gall bladder is sulking but quiet, and all is back to normal in my body.
I wash my hands and duck out of the bathroom, wave sheepishly at the guy behind the counter. As I go to my car I think, I should really gas up while I’m here – until I note the price – higher by 25 cents than anywhere I’d seen. I still had half a tank and was only about forty minutes from home. So, a pass.
As I drove out I realized the gas station was dingy and dirty. I’ve got grease on the bottom of my boot and my clothes smell faintly of cigarettes and cheap beer.
But I can handle the traffic now. I get back onto the freeway, smile at the other people in cars as we chug along at five miles per hour. It’s not until I move into the lanes for the 118 Freeway that I realize I’m not wearing my sunglasses.
(The above sunglasses are Ray Bans. My sunglasses were not Ray Bans. But they were cute.)
I laugh. Did me thinking about leaving them behind help make my mind release all thought of taking them with me? It doesn’t matter, I decide.
All in all, it’s the best trade I’ve ever made in my life.
Thanks for stopping by! Have you ever made a trade you liked? Regretted? Let’s chat!