When Shit Goes to Hell In a Handbasket But Just Fucking Survives Anyhow

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That is absolutely accurate.

I think I left off last time with Jo’s flight being delayed until who knows when. Or 620pm. I then proceeded to have too much Moscato on an empty stomach and just stay up late. I figured I’d wake up at 2pm, I’d have an hour to get ready and get a Starbucks and hit the road. Awesome.

Then I woke up. I grabbed my phone and the first thing I did was pull up the United Airlines app to check Jo’s flight. Before I could do anything, mom was calling. I answered and in a very strange voice, she told me that something happened and it was going to upset me. Or could. I can’t remember. It did. But whatever.

Dad had been arrested at 630am. So, probably, shortly after I actually went to sleep. All I really said was, ‘WHAT?’ and then listened to how my mom’s day had gone from about 830am until then. Apparently, there was a warrant out for his arrest because he left the country a year ago and wasn’t supposed to. Awesome. What, did the warrant fall behind the new guy’s desk or something? A year ago? Jesus.

She said that we would be doing court at 9am the next morning and Conor was going to get money for bail today while I drive to Kansas City to pick up Jo. I honestly don’t remember the rest of the conversation, but I do remember mom telling me that she needed a hug before I went. I got up, got ready, went to Starbucks for both of us, and also brought her some Advil before I took off.

Once in the car, and once before I’d left, actually, I had a mini-breakdown. Or in any case, a what-the-actual-fuck-is-going-on-and-I’m-really-goddamn-sick-of-2014-already-if-I’m-entirely-honest moment. Well, two moments.

I turned my music up and did as Paul McCartney told me to do: ‘step on the gas and wipe that tear away.’

The drive was uneventful. Got to KC unscathed and I will say that MCI is a super easy airport to get to, as well as maneuver parking-wise. I parked right across from the door and as I walked in, I saw a Canadian-English-looking gal with a pink bag and called out to the Canuck. Of course, it was like no time had passed since London/Bristol.

She had had a hell of a day already, too – been up since midnight CST and at the airport sitting around for hours and hours while her canceled/cancelled (ahem) flight turned into one now flying into Cleveland and then finally into KC. Thank God for beer and Starbucks and all that good stuff.

I lightheartedly told Jo that we’d have to spend a bit of her first night running to Conor’s to get the bail money (and dad’s clothes, since they didn’t let him change out of his pajamas or grab a coat.. um, it’s fucking winter) and then to mom’s to introduce Jo and work out a plan for morning. Oh yeah, then we’d have to spend her first morning here with her sleeping in and putzing around my apartment while mom and I went to court, posted bail, and waited for dad to be released.

I was pissed. I mean, the timing seemed obnoxious and totally against me/us. It would have been very easy to say that this trip never should have happened due to all the hangups, but very quickly, we realized that Jo was totally meant to be here through all of this because, well, A: I would need a Brit around to make sure my upper lip remained stiff and B: I’d just need a distraction.

Luckily, Jo was totally knackered, so she passed out and I got into bed with my laptop. I really couldn’t sleep. I really didn’t want to sleep. I just couldn’t believe this shit was sort of happening… again. I mean, sure, it’s been over ten years. It was literally laughable that we could say, ‘well, at least we know what we’re doing this time.’

You know, I’ve always been a bit afraid of it. Talking about it. Being asked about it (which never happens, but I’m para). So what? I have a convicted felon in the family. Yep. And he’s my dad and I love him. End of.

Well, not really; I’m nowhere near done with this bitch.

Anyway. Thankfully, my buddy Nicole was online and has similar sleeping habits. Since I didn’t want to go to sleep (I had to be up early and I’m always nervous I’ll sleep through my alarm when there’s important shit to do), we watched the last couple Sherlock episodes that we’d left off a while back. But mainly, and most helpfully, I was offered another distraction. (Thank you, Nicole).

After some Sherlock, a tub of hummus, and some baby carrots, I figured I should try to get at least a couple hours of sleep. It was past 5am at this point and I had to be up at 7am so that we could get to the correctional facility downtown which I had no idea even existed by 830am. I think I fell asleep singing the guitar solo from ‘Let It Be’ in my head because nothing says ‘it’ll be alright’ like George Harrison’s masterful licks in ‘Let It Be.’

I wish I could say I woke up to the sound of music, but actually, I woke up hot and sweaty, what seemed like, every twenty minutes. And then to my three or four alarms that I’d set. (Told you, para).

I took a bit longer than planned trying to get ready. What does one wear to her dad’s bond announcement, amIrite?

Was supposed to meet mom at her apartment so we could follow each other downtown. Of course, there was a disabled vehicle in the middle goddamn lane of Dodge Street about right where I needed to make a move to get Starbucks. I texted mom and asked if she could just put some coffee in a thermos for me before I FTFO. She said, yes.

Of course, due to the car in the middle of the road, traffic had slowed to about 10mph. Finally, after everyone behind me got to move into another lane (what the hell is with that, by the way? That is not courteous), I was able to take the 144th Street exit and head toward mom’s. Then that traffic was shitty. So I took Blondo. Mom said, and I will swear in court that she said, meet me at the HyVee on 132nd and Blondo.

There is no HyVee on 132nd and Blondo.

I thought, well, maybe it’s like, just past the intersection. Nope. 120th and Blondo? Nope. Shit. I pulled into some random business parking lot on 117th and Blondo before I got any further and called mom. She told me to go back to 132nd and DODGE where the HYVEE is. FFS. At this point, I had just about lost it.

FINALLY, we met up at the HyVee. On 132nd and Dodge. And I got a coffee and a protein bar. We figured Dodge Expressway to I-80 was the way to go, and we slowly made it onto Dodge. Miraculously, traffic had totally opened up because I think at this point it was just past 8am. I-80 was also totally fine and we stumbled upon the correctional facility with ten minutes to spare.

Somehow.

We even had parking spots right across from the door.

Somehow.

We get inside and this woman is kind of waiting in the vestibule where some lockers are. She said that we’d need to put all of our stuff in the lockers, except for our IDs. She was there to visit an inmate and she was very helpful. We checked in and a very nice officer told us that she’d take us up about five minutes to 9am.

We each nervously used the restroom – not nervously, as in, we were nervous to use it.. but.. you know, nerves – and then it was time to go. There were only a few of us that were led back. We passed a few banks of computer screens hooked up to telephones. Apparently, when you visit an inmate, you don’t sit with glass between you – you essentially Skype while he or she remains on some other floor entirely. Super strange, but surprisingly high-tech, I think; and film/tv needs to get with the times. Nebraska has. 

(Speaking of Nebraska – WHAT A FILM).

We’re led to this room that has three rows of seats facing a wall with plexiglass windows. The windows look into the court room. The courtroom was normal-looking, but had bulky-ass plastic benches for the inmates. The judge looked jovial, so I took that as a good sign.

They switched on a speaker so that we could hear what was going on in the room, and much to our surprise, dad was called up first. Mom grabbed my hand.

I was leaning forward in the seat, like I was waiting for Jeremy Clarkson to tell me my lap time. I was trying so hard not to be nervous, and it was strangely easy in the end, because I didn’t even feel like I was watching reality happening in front of my eyes. It was almost like cognitive dissonance. I shouldn’t be here. What am I doing here? This isn’t where I’d spend my morning. Shouldn’t I be watching Law and Order to see a courtroom?

Oh, we were told not to wave at the inmates. Like, how inappropriate would that have been.

I think dad was up in front of the judge for sixty seconds or fewer. It reminded me of when I went to small-claims and had to plead guilty to speeding and get a lecture from the State of Nebraska representative. Yeah, yeah, okay, cool, just tell me what to pay and where to pay and let me get the hell out of this weirdness.

The judge said his bond was $25-sharp intake of breath-hundred, which meant his bail was $250. I actually had to stifle a laugh. Chump change, fool. (I’ll just say, we were incredibly over-prepared).

The very nice officer told us that we could go back to the lobby and meet with dad’s attorney. We were shocked that it was over already, not that we really cared to stick around, and ran down the hall back to the lobby. The attorney said that there’s a hearing in a few weeks and it’ll hopefully just get the kibosh. So incredibly stupid, the whole thing. Even the acting prosecutor fumbled around with what to do with the whole thing.

The other nice cop at the desk told us that we could pay the bond in about an hour, so we set off for Starbucks. (Holy shit, I think I really need to take stock in this company). I impressed some guy by doing the Omaha World Herald crossword in about three minutes. Maybe shorter than that, who knows. ‘Omaha’ was one of the answers. Also, mom’s and my horoscopes were creepily fitting.

Dad called mom while we were there. I got to talk to him and asked him if he was trying to show me up after my stint as an international fugitive. He said he was and that he was even going to start a blog about it. I was like, are you fucking kidding me? You’re going to show me up by blogging, too? He said he’d probably write his book before me, too. But I could be his ghostwriter. Sigh. Yeah, whatever.

We went back and found the cashier desk. Super nice dude working it. Mom asked him very politely if he had any idea about when we could expect to pick dad up after we’d paid. He said, anywhere from two to four hours usually. He left the desk to make a copy and then upon returning, he said, ‘you know, it’s lunch time, I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back and just took care of it and he was out by 1230pm.’ It was about 1015am at the time and I thought that was pretty damn good.

Mom had to go back to work, so I decided to stick around the downtown area, or at least eastern half of Omaha. I met Conor and got dad’s house key (I wasn’t sure if he was allowed to take anything, so I didn’t know if he had a key to get back into his place after Conor made sure it was secure the day before), I stopped by QT and got dad some Lipton peach tea, a Snickers, and two Salted Nut Rolls (his fav). I figured the food was similar to what I had in the detention center in London: not bad; not good, though.

I needed to stop by the bank for Conor and there happened to be one on 35th and Farnam, which would keep me in the general vicinity just in case. As soon as I parked, mom called and said dad was being processed and would be out soon. I quickly did my banking, or Conor’s rather, and headed back for the correctional facility.

I found a parking spot right across from the door, grabbed dad’s coat, and headed inside. I sat down on the bench in the vestibule, and soon a couple women came in. They started to walk into the main lobby and I said, ladies, you’ll actually have to put everything in these lockers, but keep your IDs out. They asked me if I worked there and I said, no, just had to deal with this shit once already, so I figured I’d save them the trouble of going back and forth or setting off the metal detector. Once they were sorted, dad appeared in the lobby.

As he came through the doors, one of the ladies said, well, thanks for the help, otherwise I’d have totally screwed this up. Dad said, hey, now, don’t say that – you are a smart person and you will do great. Again, trying to show me up. For God’s sake, already.

I felt like I was just picking him up from school or something. We just immediately started talking about what had gone on and the people he met and how nice everyone was (besides the asshole half of the good-cop-bad-cop routine he got the morning before), and then I gave him his goody bag and we set off for his house.

He seriously had written down about two pages worth of thoughts. He was totes serious about writing a blog. Actually, wait, I think he was more talking about journaling because then when I said, well, I could set you up a WordPress, he was like, ‘oh I think I’ll just use Word.’ What? That’s not online, dad. But I think he might actually post it. I’ll link it, if he does.

The funniest bit was that I did exactly the same thing while I was holed up in London. It was comforting to write. It was also something to do. Scarily alike, we two.

I would hope that this is wickedly obvious, but I had to introduce a note of levity. This whole situation was completely unexpected, totally jarring, wildly frustrating, and hilariously simple to handle. God wasn’t just on our side, He seemed to be hovering and bumping into us. I can’t really explain the calm I felt after a while. Sure, I might have slipped into a bit of bargaining with the big guy at one point, but it just had to be alright. That was it. It just had to be.

Without further ado: the emotions.

I recently wrote about a quote that I repeat constantly or that holds a lot of meaning to me, and I wrote about ‘everything happens for a reason.’ There were so many reasons for the past two days’ events, I couldn’t even begin to list them. The lessons I learned, we learned; the faith, the trust, the total surrender of the whole thing. It was completely out of our control, like everything else, and we knew that. Jo was here to help me and distract me; hell, I think to help mom and dad, too. She’s been a total babe about everything. Welcome to Nebraska.

Another thing that demands discussion is the love between my divorced-and-happily-engaged/married-to-other-people parents. And no, I don’t mean the in-love kind.

It took extreme courage and trust for my dad to call my mom at a time like this. He didn’t want to call either of us and burden us, and although he’ll say he could have probably called his mentor, there really wasn’t anyone else he could have called. She dealt with it before and she had no responsibility or obligation to deal with it now, but dad knew that he could ask her and that she would handle everything. She could have easily hung up and said, sorry, I can’t; just like she could have walked away over ten years ago and said the same thing. That wouldn’t have been the easy way out either time, because that’s not the person she is. She stands up and fights for what she believes and she will take care of us and protect us until the end. She’ll even do the same for her ex-husband. Which speaks really fucking loudly about her character.

And dad, even in a confusing and likely very frightening time, was able to turn to his ex-wife. She and dad had a good marriage for 25 years. Sure, there was shit, and sure, it ended in a civil, mutually-decided divorce. But there is an understanding and love between the two of them that completely floors me. It has been such a lesson for me. I don’t know if I’ve ever been more touched by an expression of compassion.

I’m unequivocally proud to be their daughter.

It’s odd, it’s still on the day (to me, anyway), and it feels like none of it really happened. I was struggling last night and tonight I’m not. Things really upset in the blink of an eye, but I tell you what, that feeling of serenity isn’t gone. It was with me from the moment we stepped into the correctional facility this morning. I pray that it stays with me. Because, I really can’t be bothered right now. And it’s wonderful.

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