When the weather is good (no snow or ice), we usually take the back mountain roads to get up to Mom's house. They're winding and steep in some parts, but there's hardly any traffic, it's a nice scenic drive, and cuts around 45 minutes off our drive time as opposed to going the front way up the interstate.
About every 10 minutes from the back seat, Little Guy asks, "How you doing, Mom?"
I'm doing just great Punkin, how about you?
"I'm doing good! How about you, Big Kid? How you doing?"
30 minutes into the trip (on the 3rd time of being asked), Big Kid responded...."I'm not doing too good."
Big Kid: "I think I'm about to have a panic attack."
I looked at him. He was definitely white. You can tell, because he's a little freckly. They all stand out in stark relief when he goes pale.
During the last year, we've been able to cut down on his anxiety meds by half. But once in awhile, with no rhyme or reason, he has a panic attack out of the blue---with no obvious triggers. His meds were packed in his bag, which was in the trunk of the car.
I reached across the seat and held his hand.
Do you think you need more meds? Can you wait until we hit XXXXX (a small town on the way)? I can't think of any safe place to pull over until then.
"You mean the Ghost Town?"
We've driven through this little mountain town maybe 4-5 times a year back and forth. The main part of town is historical, with some buildings dating back to the late 1800's. It's so small that there isn't a grocery store, or even a gas station.
There are a lot of little Victorian cottages, a couple of which have been converted to antique shops. There's a relatively new church of the main drag, as well as a dilapidated trailer park. A little further on, there is quite a lot of new development with log homes. They have a restaurant, and usually there are one or two cars parked in front of it.
As terms of size, I guess you could say that if streets were named after letters of the alphabet, they'd probably stop at K. One of those "blink it and you'll miss it" kind of villages.
Anyway, in the last 10 years that we've taken this back way into the city, we have NEVER seen a live person in this town.
Nobody sitting on a porch. Nobody standing in a parking lot. Nobody playing on the swing set in the park. Nobody crossing the street. Nobody looking through a window either way from a store or the restaurant.
Not one person.
And after the first year or two of noticing it, we've made an effort as a family to peer out all windows of the car to see if there are any actual residents.
The only people we see are travelers in cars, like us, who are just passing through town.
It's like a really weird Twilight Zone episode where all the inhabitants are invisible. Or the "Lost Colony" of Roanoke, where everybody just up and disappeared, leaving all their worldly possessions. It's creepy as heck.
But every summer, when we drive through this little burgette, we see newly-hung banners for the "Rhubarb Festival", which has made me privately wonder if it's some Shirley Jacksonish way for the townspeople to lure passers-thru into stopping one day a year.
So they can do something terrible to us.
Maybe slaughter us like cattle and bake muffins out of our brains for the local bake sale to pay homage to some weirdo God to keep fire or flood from reigning down and wiping out the town.
ONCE, three years ago, we were driving through and we saw a Fed-Ex Guy standing on a porch with a package, waiting for someone to open the door.
"Look!" Big Kid squealed. "A real person!" He pointed, and we all pressed our faces against the car windows to get a look at the first real live person we'd ever seen in this town.
Except that he really doesn't count. Because well, he's the Fed-Ex guy. He doesn't really LIVE there. And he later prolly thought we were absolute loons----gaping at him in awe from our car.
If he ever made it out of there alive, that is.
So when Big Kid asked if we were going to stop in the "Ghost Town" to get his meds out of the trunk, I started thinking about the reference. Quite apropos. And in hindsight, I should have engaged my brain before opening my mouth, simply because we have similar thought processes sometimes, and I should have figured this was on his mind.
Do you think you can wait until we get there? I know just the spot where we can pull over.
He decided that he could.
Silly me, I thought I'd lighten the moment, and try to help take his mind off his anxiety with a little bit of demented humor.
Wouldn't it be really weird if you were getting your meds out of the trunk and somebody jumped out from behind the bushes and tried to rip your throat out with their teeth like in Shaun of the Dead?
Full and total meltdown. From the kid who thinks that Saw 1 through 4 is cool and the ultimate in high moviemaking art.
Had to pull over to the very next mountain shoulder wide enough to fit the car into to get his meds out of the trunk.
Bad, bad BAD Mommy.