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To get to the other side

Woke up 30 minutes late. Had a mental breakdown while trying to dress myself. Wore my hair up because of the matted-down sweaty look from having slept on it. Typical morning stuff.

I was finally on my way to work with an estimated time of arrival of 9:07 – math I did while sitting at my first of 17 red lights – when I saw an innocent creature attempting a death-defying feat. A turtle was trying to cross the road. In the land of normalcy, you drive by, maybe ignore the turtle or at most think a good thought for it and hope it makes it across. In the land of Whitney, this falls into the CATASTROPHE!! column and ranks right up there next to a bomb in a maternity ward set to go off at the sound of a baby’s cry and blow the entire Midwest off the map. Needless to say I re-focused my energy and made this turtle my first and foremost priority. Because sometimes there are more important things than hunger and world peace.

I pulled the most illegal of U-turns and parked my car on the wrong side of the road in the exit lane of a driveway headed into a nook housing business buildings. That might be hard to follow or picture in your mind, but just understand that it was risky. And James Bond-ish. Well, more like Jack Hanna meets James Bond. Yeah, that’s probably pretty accurate.

I got out of my car – other vehicles flying past – and looked forward at my little shelled amigo who had by now made his way into the center of one of the two lanes on this road. Cars were honking and swerving to miss him. My heart pounding, I got the scare of my life (or so it seemed at the time) when a big black Escalade came speeding toward the turtle. It seemed to happen in slow motion as I flailed at the driver, and then the turtle and I seemed to perform the same series of movements as though we were a pair of synchronized swimmers moving through a choreographed routine. Both of us extracted all of our extremities into our mid sections. My head was completely buried in my arms and neck, wondering whether I should even look up. My heart broke at the thought of him being squished, but I lifted my head and was overcome with a feeling of relief. I puffed up my chest and took commanding steps into the road. Horns were honked, middle fingers were thrown, but I managed to STOP TRAFFIC WITH MY BODY in order to grab the turtle. And by God, I was proud.

He was much bigger than he looked from the side of the road. I scooped him up with both hands and ran him to his destination – the other side of the road. He poked his head out a little and showed me his eyes. This is why I save animals – because even though he couldn’t speak to me and tell me he was grateful for the lift, I knew he was. And that makes it worth it. That look in his beady little eyes makes it worth having run into traffic. And being called “crazy bitch!” by the passersby who apparently had an estimated time of arrival that was much later than 9:07.

I carefully got back into my car and tried to avoid touching anything with my turtle fingers. I started thinking about how that’s a great way to start the day. Saving a turtle from the middle of the road. Putting him in a safe place. Well, ok, maybe not a “safe” place, but at least the place where he was headed. Ok, well, maybe not even close to a safe place. In fact, wasn’t there a fence right there? So what now? He gets across the road, discovers there is a fence and then TURNS AROUND? WHAT WAS I THINKING?! I SHOULD HAVE TAKEN THIS TURTLE HOME AND TUCKED HIM INTO MY BED BECAUSE THIS WORLD IS REALLY NO PLACE FOR A TURTLE!

The rest of the way to work I thought about where else I could have put him, maybe over the fence? Maybe driven around until I found a happy turtle lake for him to bathe in? GEEZ?! WHY IS BEING A GOOD SAMARITAN SO FREAKIN HARD?!

I arrived at my office at 9:12 feeling lousy. I figured I’d just try to distract myself by going through my to-do list and throwing myself into non-turtle tasks to get my mind off of the fact that I might or might not be seeing a mound of shell and turtle sauce on my way home from work. Patrick called after about 20 minutes, and the conversation was filled with a lot of frustration on my end. “I’m sorry, Patrick, it’s not you,” I explained.  “It’s just that I’m not sure I found the safest place for that turtle.” Needless to say I’ve since been committed.

We discussed a few other things – bills, plans for the day – before the conversation circled right back around to where it started – my amphibious acquaintance.  Patrick hesitated a little before asking, “Where is the turtle?” He asked in a way that was of utmost seriousness – a tone that I knew meant he was planning to swoop in and save me as he so often does. I knew just by his asking that he was going to go find that turtle.

“You don’t have to go there, Patrick, I will go after my meeting at 10 and move him,” and then I thought, I just hope he’s not dead by then!

Patrick decided that checking on the turtle would make me feel less stressed. And relieving my stress would relieve his stress. So he left the course, which is 25 minutes away, to go check on my turtle. He never found the little guy, but he thoroughly inspected the situation and figured that the turtle likely made a short trek along the edge of the fence before finding refuge in some nearby shrubbery. Patrick said he’d probably followed his senses toward water and was most likely basking in the nearby lake just beyond the fence. Then Patrick told me that the turtle was no doubt thinking about me and how grateful he was to have met me. And this is the story I am going to tell whenever people ask me how I know Patrick is the one.

Sometimes life is about sticking your neck out for those who are helpless and can do nothing but duck and cover in the face of danger. And sometimes life is about containing the crazy, which is something Patrick’s become an expert at doing. He knows that I’m not without my quirks, he knows I’m not perfect and he knows that sometimes in the midst of a normal morning I’m going to run into traffic and stand up for a turtle. There are a lot of things about me that people don’t understand. But this is where Patrick is different – he understands everything about me. He consoles me and comforts me and saves me and protects me. And when faced with a choice, he makes a long drive to check on a turtle because he knows just what to do to make me feel at peace.

And that is why I am marrying him.

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Comments

  1. * spring says:

    <3 wonderful story and well written

    | Reply Posted 6 years, 8 months ago


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