Sunday, November 22, 2015

While everyone is at the NCWN Fall Writers’ Conference in Asheville

I wanted to have a pity party for myself today.(Saturday) So many writers I know are in Asheville for the Fall Conference with Lee Smith and Kathryn Stripling Byer plus many other great presenters, but I am home with Lexie, my puppy. She is not the reason I didn’t drive the two hours to get there, but she has made staying home much more pleasant and the main reason I didn’t throw myself a pity party.

The fact is, I had a bit of a trauma the last trip I made alone. I locked myself out of the vacation home where I was staying and locked my car keys and my cell phone inside the house. To make matters worse, it was raining.

There I sat, my car half-packed to go home, trying to think of something I could do to get attention to my plight. But the only house I could see that was near enough to hear my horn blowing was totally empty. Far away, I could see a house with two cars parked in front. To get to that house, I had to walk down a steep, leaf-covered driveway to the main road. Then I would have to walk further downhill and then uphill again to reach the house. When I say hill, I mean steep inclines in the mountains of the high country just off the Blue Ridge Parkway.

I have trouble walking on flat land with my ailing feet and back, but I had to give it a try. I draped a blanket over my head to protect me from the light rainfall, and began my trek on the slippery leaves, praying that I would not fall and break my hip or leg. I would not let myself think about the consequences if that happened.

When I finally reached the asphalt road, I turned left and continued downward hoping that someone would come by in a vehicle and give me a ride.  I trudged along until, through the silence, I heard something and turned to look back. Far above me I recognized the sound of a motorized vehicle. Then I saw it. A white pickup truck was winding its way down from the top of the mountain. I turned to face it and began waving my arms up and down, then out in front of me, hoping he would stop. I was afraid I looked loony and perhaps the driver would just go on past not wanting to get involved with someone walking in the rain with a blanket over her head.

But the truck slowed and the window lowered. I saw a clean cut man looking at me with alarm.
“Are you alright?” he asked. “Can I help you?”
“Yes, please,” I said. “I locked myself out of the house where I was staying and I have no car keys and no cell phone.”
“What can I do? Do you want me to try to get in the house?”
“I need to call the rental company and get them to bring me a key.”
“Oh. OK, come and get in the truck and you can use my phone.”

His name was Tom and he was such a gentleman. He turned up the heat afraid I was cold, and he looked up the name of the rental company before calling them and handing me the phone. They said it would cost me twenty-five dollars for them to bring me the key even though I told them I had no car. Tom told the rental company he would take me to get the key.

Tom drove me about twenty miles to the rental company and then returned me to the house. On the way over and back I learned that he was a retired police officer from Dade County, FL. He and his wife had lived in the area full time for about ten years. He looked after a few vacation homes.

I also learned that I was very lucky that morning because Tom had been up on the mountain installing a humidifier in a house for someone who, like all the people who were there for the summer, had gone back to winter in Florida.

“I don’t know if there would have been anyone else coming down today,” he said. “I think everybody is already gone.”

I had not had breakfast and I am diabetic so my blood sugar had fallen quite low and I felt awful. As soon as I retrieved my car keys and my handbag, I headed out to a restaurant a few miles away. I did not start home until nearly 2:00 p.m.

The stress of the morning took a toll on me and the physical stress of packing my car caused a flare-up of fibromyalgia which left me exhausted and in pain. I made it to Asheville where I stayed overnight. A good night’s rest helped me feel better the next day for the drive home. 

Since then, I have had second thoughts of traveling alone. Also, I have had other health problems in the past few weeks that caused me to wonder if going for a weekend conference might be a little more stressful and difficult than it was in the past. Maybe I should stay closer to home, take advantage of the many opportunities that are nearby, and be able to sleep in my own bed at night.

Today was a dreary, dark day. That made it easier to enjoy being home where I could cuddle up with Lexie, read and write. But she has no clue about my writing. She thinks she can curl up on my chest and sleep while I sit in front of my computer. I cannot type with one hand, and it takes one hand to hold her so she won’t fall off.

I moved my desktop computer to my dining room table so she and I can be in the same room together. She is into chewing right now and if I don’t watch her every minute, she will chew computer wires, the legs of my table, and anything she finds on a table. Yes, she is like a monkey, up on chairs, walking on tables and running from one room to another unless I keep doors shut.

Tonight she is finally asleep in her crate where she is very happy. And that makes me happy. So this weekend at home was not too bad after all. Now I will look forward to the Blue Ridge Writers’ Conference in BlueRidge, GA in April. That one is close to me and I always enjoy going there. 

Blue Ridge Writers' Conference a few years ago. Seated: Janice Townley Moore, poet, Left to right, Joan Howard, Brenda Kay Ledford, Mary Ricketson, poets and all members of NCWN-West and Diana, also a writer


DJan said...

Somebody was looking out for you that day, Glenda. And to have such a wonderful person help you, I understand how much difference a single person can make to anyone in your situation. Thanks for the great story, and I'm glad you've got your furry friend for company. Sounds pretty perfect to me. :-)

Kathleen Ellen Schofield said...

Such a harrowing experience you describe. I'm glad you found such a nice helper, and I think you were wise to stay home this weekend. And, I'll bet Lexie was really happy to have you there with her.

Glenda C. Beall said...

I was told today that I must not let this scary incident stop me from being the independent person I am. In fact, I was told I am admired for being independent. I have to examine my life a bit more carefully as to what I should and shouldn't do. I have always felt so safe in my car which I keep well-serviced, but I never thought about being alone with no way to communicate. I had an extra phone in my car but it had run out of minutes so it was no good to me. Funny, because I bought it to have as a backup in an emergency.

Thanks, DJan and Ellen, for your comments. I hope you and all my readers have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving holiday. Maybe we can forget all the bad news that bombards us constantly and be with those we love.

Nancy Simpson said...

Glenda, all weekend while I felt disconnected from the NC writing community. I was thinking at least Glenda and Karen were able to go. I understand fully about your situation. I'm glad you got the help you needed to get back home.

I've been unable to travel alone for several years now. It truly hurts me not to be able to participate, especially in NCWN where I have been a member since inception, and more so when they finally did bring the conference to Asheville, the most likely conference I would be able to attend, even with some help.

I have heard through the grapevine by two that went that it was great. (as usual)

Joan Ellen Gage said...

Glenda, you were blessed to have a gentleman rescue you!I think you will be more careful in the future.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Yes, Joan. Although I thought I had been very careful, I will make sure I always have my keys in the car and my phone with me.

Glenda C. Beall said...

Nancy, I've picked some minds about the conference as well and it sounds like it was terrific.
Maybe next time it is in Asheville, you and I can go.

Celia Miles said...

I'm hearing about this adventure late, but it makes me think thrice about hours of driving alone! Glenda, you are to be admired (and a mother might say--reprimanded)--keep on going, but with someone! celia

Glenda C. Beall said...

This comment is from my cousin, Rob.

Wow! Your most recent story on your blog reminded me how dangerous traveling by yourself can be! Over the past few years I have traveled more and more by myself after retirement in the mountains of Arkansas on various biological field trips never giving one thought to being alone! Yipes!

It is sad to reach that age where we are vulnerable and can not do all the physical things we once did and your story certainly pointed that out! However, it was a great story in that a gallant young man did assist you and help out a stranger in need. All in all, I was uplifted after reading your story.

Keep writing Glenda as you really do have a special talent that needs to be shared.