So I'm telling her this, saying that I'd like to drive back to Chicago from Virginia when I take my leave. This way I can have my car and not be forced to stay at home with Nannie for two weeks straight. Not only that, but buying a plane ticket at the last second can be expensive, and I'm sure I'll have no idea when I'll be able to leave Virginia until literally hours before they release me. The only problem is, I'm worried about making such a long trip so soon after redeployment. Would I be ready to face the road and drive normally? Or will the stress of having to drive calmly in a straight line at a decent speed be too much for me to handle??
That's when Mandee suggests having a friend drive back with me from Virginia. Unfortunately, none of my friends there have any reason to go to Chicago for two weeks, I am sure. So she says, "Why don't you have a friend come down from Chicago and drive with you back?" Even though I shrugged off the suggestion as unrealistic, a seed was thus planted in my brain that would later germinate and nearly crack my skull in a following conversation with my grandmother.
So when I call Nannie to tell her that, yep, I am still in Kuwait, she starts to ask about when I'll be home. This quickly leads to a discussion of the pros and cons of driving home alone for thirteen to fifteen hours. That's when she says that she would LOVE to drive with me back home. Thinking that, hey, Nannie still hasn't seen my house in Virginia and, SAY!, she's never even met my roommates, I start to warm to the idea of having her visit me in Virginia. In a few moments I'm browsing through one-way ticket options from Chicago to Norfolk as I'm speaking to her and suddenly I say, "Hey, here's a one-way ticket to Virginia on March 14th for only a hundred bucks." She is visibly delighted (yes, even over the phone) and proclaims herself "thrilled" crying that I've made her week, etc. Happy to have found a way to to simultaneously make my trip back to Chicago safe and make Nannie's week, I click on the purchase button.
So that is how I fooled myself into thinking that I'd be able to stand having my lunatic grandmother in the car long enough to drive to Frank's Finer Foods, let alone on a fifteen-hour highway extravaganza. I have never been able to stand driving with the woman, and I have on one occasion actually forced her to get out of the passenger seat and ride in the back before I even made it from my house to Winfield road. She has a pretend brake pedal that she stomps vigorously anytime a crossroad is visible, and she thinks she can judge my driving speed more accurately than the speedometer, which, according to her, displays my speed as 10-15 miles per hour slower than reality. The last time she was even in my vehicle she stole over eight dollars worth of quarters and blamed it on my sister, who doesn't even pay the tolls she passes through, negating the necessity for vast amounts of change. But worst of all is the incessant nagging, criticizing, and otherwise completely distracting, one-sided conversation that she insists on delivering in a voice too loud for a room full of people, let alone a mid-sized sedan. Those of you who know the woman know exactly what I'm talking about.
Why these memories didn't surface in my mind sooner, I don't know. So I don't know what I just did, or if it will mean my certain demise. I can not think of a more stressful driving situation than having her in my front seat. Maybe I can drop her off with the Mennonites of Western Pennsylvania and mail her a check every month. More than likely, they will not let her stay with them, although she can pull off a wicked good "wholesome religious lady" facade for about five seconds if she has the mind to. Does anyone know how I can get a hold of some horse tranqs on short notice??