Rewind back to June 3rd: Tom and I got up super early to get on the road by 5:00 a.m., with the hopes of reaching our hotel in time for early check-in, a quick shower, and enough time to reach San Francisco by 5:00 p.m., where we were to meet “Mina” and her husband for dinner.
Having lived in the Bay Area, I knew parking was going to be difficult, so I used Google maps to find parking garages in the Nob Hill area. Of course, the first two we passed charged $30-50 for the day, and I was hoping to avoid that extra expense. By the grace of the fates, we found a parking spot on the street, so we snagged it. Again using Google maps, we started for the Nob Hill Café. About a block or two into our walk (we went around in circles a few times) the question hit me: “Did we remember which street we’d parked on?”
“Oh, we’re just a couple blocks away; we’ll find it,” we agreed.
Move forward a few hours… when the hunt for the car began. We walked in circles for two hours, with me in my hippie-vampire finest—a corset, massive bellbottoms, and three-inch heels. Finally, frustrated and exhausted, we stopped to regroup at the Hilton in Chinatown. By now, it was midnight.
We’d run out of nearly all ideas, with only a few options left. Option one: “Maybe we could hire a taxi to drive us around the area?” I called a couple of cab companies, but none would dispatch a car without a specific destination to plug into their systems, despite our desperate situation. Tom insisted I stay there, warm and safe in the lobby—did I mention San Francisco gets cold at night?—while he took another walk around the nearby block. Despite my better judgment, I let him go. Of course, when he didn’t return almost immediately, my mind went into catastrophize mode, and every possible mugging, stabbing, shooting, beating death overwhelmed my tired mind. I texted friends nearby, and even called family over an hour away, unsure what to do next. Thankfully, Tom returned…
But again, he hadn’t spotted the car, so we decided to try hailing a taxi from the curb in front of the hotel so we could extend the search. A very nice, very patient man picked us up. We proceeded to drive around in circles, finding nothing. We ended up back in front of the Hilton—$40 poorer. By now, it was 2:00 a.m., so we decided to get a room and regroup in the morning. We had no clean clothes, all our luggage sitting in a hotel room an hour away, but it we’d run out of options.
Tom got up early to begin the search, and he returned quickly. The car had been a block away from the Chinatown Hilton; he could see it from the street corner. Unfortunately, that particular street hadn’t been lit, so even though we’d passed our car numerous times the night before, we had missed it. Luckily, it was Sunday, so the street cleaners were lenient—we received a $70 parking ticket instead of getting towed. He brought me a sweatshirt from the car so I didn’t have to don the corset for the drive, and after paying for a second hotel for the night, we were on our way. As we drove off, we saw that the Hilton would have charged us $9 to park for the weekend.
So… there is a tunnel on the 101 just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, and the car’s automatic lights didn’t go on quickly enough. Tom turned on the lights. We were too tired to notice when he didn’t flip them back to automatic. By the time we reached family, whom we planned on visiting for the following two days, we were so exhausted, neither of us heard the door’s warning bell as we piled our bags out of the car.
That evening, we planned on going to watch my dad rehearse with one of the bands he plays with. You guessed it: The battery was dead. Dead dead. Out came the jumper cables, and my stepmom gave us a jump. While we stood, waiting for the battery to charge, of all people, my abusive ex happened to drive by.
I noticed the white SUV slowing, and I saw him as soon as he came into view through his open passenger window. We caught eyes, and all I could do was blankly watch as he passed us. He obviously recognized me, his sight glued onto me for as long as he could possibly keep it, to the extent that his view fell completely off the road for several seconds. He looked like he’d seen a ghost, his face riddled with a look of surprise and dread.
We continued on to the rehearsal, but the PTSD I thought I had moved so far beyond bubbled to the surface. The emotional impact of being beaten so terribly forced out tears that corresponded to confusingly empty thoughts. Put simply, I found myself crying for reasons that were beyond me, despite having a blast at the rehearsal. I took solace in knowing my presence would haunt him far worse than his would me: Seeing me would be a reminder of the monster he hid so well from the rest of the world, and he had to live with that.
Of course, the car wouldn’t start after the rehearsal, so dad gave us a second jump. We didn’t run the battery long enough afterward, so it was dead again the next morning. Dad gave us another jump, and we let the car run for an hour before we started back toward San Francisco, to meet with some friends before we started the nine-hour drive back home. The car nearly didn’t start again when we stopped for gas, but after a quick scare, the engine turned over and we were back on our way.
We had a lovely visit with our friends, where we were able to take turns cuddling with the sweetest feline ever to be named Murderball. We ended losing track of time, not on the road until nearly 5:00 p.m., so we sprang for another hotel halfway along the drive home.
Lessons learned: 1. If you ever have plans to meet a friend circa Chinatown, park and stay at the Hilton. It’ll save you hundreds in the long run. 2. If you happen to go crazy dressing up for an event—say you might end up looking like a high-priced hooker on the morning after—keep a backup shirt in your purse. 3. Try always to look fabulous; you never know when your asshole ex might pass by and see how hot you’ve become in his absence.