The second morning at The Porches has dawned. Monday night we traveled to Charlottesville to pick up R. B and I made our way, without issue, to the airport. You’d think the journey back would be equally as simple. Pfft!

B played with the iPad, instead of using the GPS on my phone. You know, because we’re way out in the country—and service is, well, spotty. On the iPad, we could have the directions remain on the screen with or without service.

Yes, I have an iPad, it’s a very new toy. I like gadgets, don’t judge me.

Anyway, we arrived at the teeny-tiny airport, that has a revolving door from the gates. Only one person could pass through at a time. It was interesting. We waited for R. She waved vigorously from the other side of the glass, waiting in the single file line to pass through the door and into Charlottesville.

We shopped at the Kroger, that we passed and had to make a u-turn to get back to. I should have seen this as an omen. But, I’m not real good at seeing omens. In retrospect, I always say, ah, there it was, an omen.

Coming out of the Kroger parking lot (somewhere in the foothills of Virginia), we encountered a one way sign and had to do another u-turn. At the next light, B said make a right, I moved to the left lane. B & R both said, no the other right.

I was tired and turned around from already having driven in circles around the Kroger. Making a left hand turn, later, my Boston driving tactics unnerved both of them as I cut across the road in front of a truck.

Both of them repeated, in somewhat raised voices, truck, truck!

I knew I had time to cross the intersection, but they didn’t. I would have made it in better time had I not slowed down to their cautions. I learned to drive in Boston, no guts, no glory. We made it.

I unknowingly flew by the next turn and B said, turn here on this road. Well, this turn was one way, and I had to do a u-turn and circle back to the entrance to the road, well, the entrance that went in the right direction, anyway.

The roads were getting narrower, sleepier. A fox darted across the road. I jumped. What’s that? I asked. It vanished into the woods before the acknowledgement of what it was processed in my brain. It ran from left to right across my path.

What? I didn’t see anything.

Animal eyes glowed in darkened fields and forest around us.

Turn here, on Cabell. B said.

Cabell turned to the left. The road to the right had another name.

No, right.

I think my passengers were beginning to think I didn’t know my left from my right, which is silly, the sapphire JL gave me is always on my left ring finger. The road to the right isn’t Cabell, I replied.

So, I stopped in the middle of the road. I was on Cabell; a darkened lonely sort of road you’d expect to see in, oh, Deliverance, and waited.

Follow James River Rd to Norwood. Thank god for google maps.

R, in the backseat, looked for oncoming headlights as I back my car onto the previous road.

Ok. Onward.

R took the iPad. Well, we could have turned right there and followed that road, I think it’s shorter. Do we want to turn around?

I surveyed the one lane, well lane and a half, road and said, I’ve no where to turn around. I didn’t want to do another u-turn on another darkened road.

Something was moving in the woods beside us, a deer? Something sinister? What sorts of animals live by deserted mountain roads? Ryan would talk about Yeti, or dragons. I settled on bears, or mountain lions.

Here! Turn here!

I immediately saw the tall general store, that looked like it belonged in Mayberry, that I had thought on my way in, I need to photograph that.

I turned on to Norwood. A true one lane road. A young deer darted out in front of us and jumped up onto an embankment.

There was a fence. The deer was frightened. Deer in the headlights, right here for us to witness.

Speed up, get by it.

No, stop, it’ll jump in front of us—into us.

I inched forward slowly.

Nothing in my Boston driver education had trained me to maneuver around deer. Semis, no worries. Deer, not so much. I kept an eye on it.

I moved.

It moved.

It could have almost been a ballet, we moved up the road, it looking for a place to jump the fence, me a safe opportunity to pass.

And the moment happened; we synchronized; the young deer scaled the fence, I drove by.

We put groceries away. Well, B & R put groceries away, I sank into the plush pillows of the sofa/day bed in the “refectory” and unwound.

We slept, ate, wrote, workshopped and enjoyed the company of the other writers here.

I am hoping, the sense of wholeness and serenity is an omen.

Word count: 867


2 thoughts on “Omens

  1. Funny! So, you let your inner-Bostonian override your twenty-odd years of training in rural driving? You’ve no doubt heard that deer are transfixed by headlights; it’s worth noting that removing headlights from the encounter equation should quickly produce the desired result; adding a horn to it increases the rate of success.

    Making left from right (perhaps you and your friends will be assuaged knowing that this is a common stress-related affliction on Parris Island too), circuitous U-turns, vying semi-trucks for lane spots—which some passengers could understandably construe as erratic—are not traits exclusive to drivers from Boston, I can assure you. Many people drive with a certain license. In fact, three of every four U.S. drivers seem to think the paint on the pavement and other assorted traffic controls apply only to other drivers. Hell, some drivers even disregard the presence of pavement itself.

    All in all, it sounds as if your trip to the airport and back was simply a flight into unfamiliar territory; that and a misguided reliance on gadgetry. (I’m not judging.)

    I pray your safe return.

  2. You could drive like Caitie, who learned in the burbs, and has learned to avoid deer, turkeys, turtles, but firmly beleives that if a road has four lanes – Use ’em all!
    Or me, who cannot follow the pink line on the GPS, because I can’t figure out the scale, and I yell back at it.
    It’s important in life to have an adventure now and again, it keeps us alert!
    Enjoy your retreat!

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