Jonathan kept driving. We had more than 3 hours to go. And it was getting colder and colder inside the car. The thermometer indicated 36 F.
The farther North we drove on US 27, the lower the temperature became.
The cold air is filtered in from the windows, and from the bottom of the car.
“Woah… does this car have any heat?” Axel asked.
“No, no heat,” I replied.
The mechanic shot it off to repair an AC pipe which was draining water inside the car.
It was very dark outside. After more than 35 minutes driving on US 27, we came across the very first gas service station which was opened.
Axel asked Jonathan to stay there for a minute. He wanted to use the restroom and also to have some heat.
We stayed at the gas station. I filled up the tank with fuel. My hand could not hold the pump for long. I alternated both hands right, and left, to pump.
Mariejo, Jonathan, and Axel went inside. I reached them after pumping the gas.
As soon as I got inside, I felt relieved. There was heat. I rubbed my hands together, my eyes glancing on the walls looking for an electric outlet to recharge my phone.
My phone battery died. Every body cell phone was almost dead.
We are in the wilderness. We are somewhere in Georgia. I even don’t know specifically in what county I was at the moment. It was 3:05 am.
The clerk store was a lady who was by herself serving 2 customers. She asked us to remain close to the counter to make sure she saw us.
John replied very courteously with a “yes, ma’m.”
I found an empty outlet and plugged in my phone before I got back close to the counter where the clerk could see me.
I bought a small cup of hot coffee. We left the convenient store thanking the lady to have hosted us for the last minutes and to give us a respite from the cold.
We got back in the car. It was very cold, very cold.
We had two more hours to drive before we reached the Joly’s hone. Jonathan felt tired and asked to switch drivers.
I took over the wheel and continued the road. My hands were cold, and crampy. My toes as well.
I started some exercises with my right hand closing and opening and counting to 30. Then I did the very same thing with my left hand … 1-2-3-4…. up to 30. Then my right toes, left toes controlling my breathing…. breathing in to 30 and breathing out to 30.
My mind has taken control over my body. I became accustomed to the cold in the moment.
Jonathan fell asleep. In the back, Mariejo and Axel are in total silence under the cover of their sweaters.
“Are you doing ok, ”I asked. Mariejo said “yes.” I told her “we are almost there.
”We kept going, passing Fort Benning, Columbus, and exited to I-85 North towards Atlanta.
Axel told me “we will stay in that road for 80 miles.
”Our temperature inside was now at 32F. I drove on cruise at 80 miles per hour. In one hour we will be in Atlanta.
“We’re getting closer,” I shouted. We kept going North on I-85. There are very few other cars and trucks going or coming our ways. I reflected on life, talking to myself in my mind.
I felt less cold approaching our destination. I felt more energetic. It was almost 5:00 am, and I have been driving for a full 13 hours. I was not sleepy, and continued with silent exercises of breathing in and out, and fingers and toes closing and opening.
Thoughts of why I did not drive my other car, or rent another SUV kept coming back in my mind. I chased them away and started a conversation on what we will be doing this weekend in Atlanta with our friends and families.
We exited I-85 to an new road. Axel told me we will stay here for 11 miles. Then 3 miles in another one. The roads are becoming more local, with stop signs, and street lights, houses on both sides.
Siri spoke to us more often. Then, we had some very narrow paths on which to stay o.7 miles.
Everybody was up. We were really getting closer.
“You’re arrived,” Axel phone said. It was 5:43 am, still dark. We saw the address on the mail box, but we were not quite sure which house we had to go to.
“Call them,” Mariejo said. Axel, whose phone was the only one on, does not have the Joly’s numbers.
Jonathan had a one percent left and called her godmother.
“Maren’n, nou deyo a – Godmother, we are outside-,” I heard him say.
Axel and Marijo said this is the house. They recognized Rene’s cars in the driveway. They got off, picked their luggage in the trunk, and moved to get in the house .
We saw a light just turned on inside. We rushed to the door. Mama, with a bright smile, opened the door while staying inside.
What a relief to be there at last. It was warm. We were trembling. Our bodies were shaken. Now inside, we are experiencing the value of the heat.
Rene came to great us. I shook his hand.
“Waoh,” he exclaimed pulling his hand from mine. “Your hand is very cold,” he said.
And the party began.. “What do you want… coffee, tea, hot chocolate,” asked Rene.
Mariejo had tea, I had coffee.
I told them the story of our trip, the hectic traffic, how close we were to get hit by a big truck, the cold, the car…
We laughed and shared more stories and our gratefulness to be with them at this moment to enjoy their beautiful home.
While Rene was pouring some more coffee in my cup, I told him I am here to enjoy his guitar playing,, and sharing funny family stories.
It has always been a pleasure to be in Rene’s companionship. I can sit quiet after a good meal, sipping some red wine, listening to him playing his guitar, or participating in a good conversation, or sharing books.
He just added a new hobby to his list: painting. Some of his surrealist pieces are exposed on his dining room. This is a try.
I pulled one with his initials RJ at the bottom right and told him I just need to add F at the end to make it Roosevelt Jean-Francois instead of Rene Joly.
We were exhausted, but content. We laughed, and laughed about our stories.
That’s what life is, sharing moments and experiences with those you appreciate. I had another cup of coffee with bagels, and chicktay. It was pretty good.Very good food.
Manmit mwen came to greet us. She was very happy to see Axel, ( oh … sa a se yon Gwo gason papa) her godson Jonathan, myself, and her sister Mariejo who really called her manmit mwen.
“Figi w fre – looking good,” II told her … “figi w fre… wey wey …. ban’m yon lot –looking good.. tell me something else..” she said.
It was 7:00 am this Thanksgiving Thursday. Time to go to bed. We were discussing who was going where, in what room….
I slept, woke up at 10:00 am, picked my cell phone, and wrote this 2 part story. Just for you.
Here are some more pictures…