My Most Memorable Trip
In Hong Kong, 1.25 million chickens were killed due to the outbreak of the dreaded bird flu, Princess Diana died, and gas was only $1.22 per gallon. I was newly divorced and working pizza delivery for about nine months when the call came in for a delivery to Eastern Ave. in Manchester, NH. It was much different than the inner city that I grew up in. Buildings were riddled with bullets, the streets were filled with thugs and the part of town that I grew up was labeled “The Combat Zone”. I was excited to deliver to that section of town as it has been known to tip well. I didn’t realize that it was the address of an old high school crush. This surprise was better than any tip I would ever receive. When she opened the door, I could place the face; I couldn’t put a name to it. “Donna”, she said. “Ah, dang it”, I said, frustrated with myself. We were both “war veterans”.
I don’t know why it is that I forgot the name of the girl that turned me down to go to the company Christmas party when we were working at a local grocery store when I was seventeen. It was nearly ten years later. Human evolution seemed to distort my pubescent view of her over time, although her effect on me hadn’t faded. With some small talk and pizza in hand, she had told me that she just came home from the hospital as a first time mother. “Her name is Allison” she said. I loved kids and was very eager to meet her. I asked if I could hold her. With an expression of surprise, she happily obliged. A smile ear to ear on Donna’s face said all I needed to know about her thoughts. She stated that Allison had never gone to anyone without crying before. Much to our surprise, Allison seemed quite content to be cradled in my arms. When I asked what was new in her life besides the omnipresent baby in my arms, she explained that she was single and going through an interesting time in her life. We continued small talk for a few minutes before I left to continue my night at work.
A few nights later, I had another delivery to the same building that Donna lived in. After the delivery, I knocked on her door. “Donna, would you be offended if I asked for your phone number?” I inquired. “Not at all” she mentioned, as she reached for the pen out of my shorts pocket. She didn’t realize I already had her phone number. It was listed on the pizza box from our first encounter.
Phone calls and dates were the next, natural step. We exchanged stories about our work history, education level and more importantly, our moral standards and family values. She explained how disturbed she was about her mom’s passing when she was young. I informed her of the natural progression of my prior marriage blessed me with a son. I shared the joy that I experience when I am with my son Matthew. My old crush and I were catching up on old and current times very quickly. We laughed about the fun times shared at one of our first jobs. We fantasized about hypothetical situations. How would our lives be if she hadn’t gone to the company Christmas party with Allison’s father? What would fate have in store for her if I had beaten him to asking her first? He had emotionally abused her. Our relationship was progressing very well and within a few months I asked her to go on a weekend trip.
I owned a sporty car and wanted to take it for a six hour drive southwest. I asked her to go for a trip to New York City. Although surprised by the suggestion, she swiftly accepted the offer.
Technology wasn’t as good then as it is now. Getting to Manhattan was going to present a problem for a young adult with little driving experiences to distant places. It would be a long ride with my two year old son and Donna’s new baby. I wasn’t well prepared to drive in bad weather if it crept up on me. Further, I had heard many horror stories of what congested traffic might be like at any time of day as any driver gets closer to the hustle...