My husband and I had been dating for a while at this point. In fact, we had moved in together and things were going good for us both. His parents asked if we wanted to go with them to Miami to see the NASCAR race in Homestead. So we are talking about November 2005 when this happened.
We piled into the baby blue Mercury Villager and Justin was shoving me in the very back, third row section swimming in pillows.
“I can’t even see out the windows.” I huffed. “I don’t understand why we need this many for ONE night in Miami.”
“Trust me, Babe.” He closed the van door and rushed to buckle his seat as his mom started to back out of the driveway. “You don’t want to be able to see the road.”
I furrowed my brow in confusion, but it was closer to Hollywood, Florida on I-95 that I discovered why Justin seemed so awkward. As traffic thickened, his parents started having the mother-of-all-passenger-driver arguments I have ever witnessed. His Dad and Mom were arguing which lane to be in, even though it was stop and go traffic. Without warning, his father reached over, yanked the steering wheel making the van change lanes. I yelped as my head was saved by pillow, padding my head from smacking into the window.
“See, aren’t you glad I brought the pillows.” The lack of fear on Justin’s face terrified me. “This always happens when we go on roadtrips.”
“WHY DIDN’T WE OFFER TO DRIVE?” I exclaimed, clawing at the pillows to see if we were near an exit. “Oh my God, we’re not going to make it to Miami at this rate…”
Relief washed over me as I saw an exit sign along with Fishing Hall of Fame.
“Mrs. Willis! I am starving can we pull off this exit for a bite to eat?” It was amazing how my outcry had not been heard, but the thought of pulling off this exit at least made it past the arguing rampage going on in the front of the minivan. “Oh! My! Look! The Fishing Hall of Fame! Oh, could we please check that out!”
Luckily we were there long enough to eat, check out the Hall of Fame and for traffic to clear out. Granted there was a repeat session of driving chaos on our way out of the Homestead Race. Once more, the frightening jerk of the steering wheel as we found ourselves bouncing down the emergency shoulder lane. I think I found myself screaming “I’M HUNGRY!” over and over.
Looking back, I am still not sure if my meal there was stress eating or starvation, but perhaps both. Check out that dinner experience here on Val Tell me a Story No.23: Hungry, Hungry Girlfriend.