Gratitude. With a side of barbecue.

Photo by Grant Ritchie on Unsplash

I’m going to tell you a story about something that happened about three months ago, which is a really long time, in blogging years. There are some reasons for this:

Reason One: I haven’t blogged a lot lately.

Ok, I know. Redundant! Bad writing! But now that I have you totally on pins and needles here, let me explain. There are some reasons for this.

Sub-Reasons for Reason One:

  1. I decided to focus on all these other things until “things settled down a bit.”
  2. All those other things never did, in fact, “settle down.”
  3. We got a puppy and so my entire life these days entails me saying, “Go potty” and walking back and forth a lot. There will be more about this because the puppy is adorable and floofy, but this post will NOT (NOT!!!!) get all distracted and go all over the place! Stay focused, Dana!
  4. I forget the fourth thing. I know there was one but alas.

Reason Two: I had a Big Existential Writing Crisis (BEWC)and wondered if I should stop writing altogether and just clean things all the time (see #3 above on Sub-Reasons and also my two spawn-children are total slobs).

Ok, Reason Two is kind of an excuse. I have always had slob-children (or at least it seems that way) and the puppy is a floofy ball of goodness. The Big Existential Writing Crisis (BEWC) really was just a continued problem with managing my time and coming to the shocking conclusion that I am not nearly as organized as I think I am. Let’s face it – writing back in the good old days? You just got a quill and some parchment and you pushed your bun back and adjusted your corset and wrote. Also there were no kitty memes.

Nowadays? I don’t even wear a bra half the time and yes I know that’s more than perhaps you need to know. But also, there’s all the other stuff, like having a platform and speaking and instagram followers where I post pictures of the floofy goodness, and so on.

I got a taste of this when three months ago I was traveling to North Carolina for a book event. The trip was lovely and important and I think I already posted pictures about it on my instagram (of course) but also?

I got in a car wreck.

In my rental car.

And it was awful.

Not-so-quick recap of what happened: I was done with my final speaking event, and was driving back to the hotel. The gig had gone really well and I was in that exhausted and happy place that is common when speaking. The next morning I would be leaving for home and I can remember praying, “Thank you for this. Thank you so much for all of this! I am just so grateful, God and I-“

And then I turned into a car. Like, it was totally my fault. ALL my fault. Now, it was dark, and the roads were slippery and as the woman told me, repeatedly, “Accidents happen. It’s ok. We have insurance. Neither of us are injured; we are FINE.” Oh, I was so very upset.

It was just a dumb thing. Which could very well have ended up worse. And the whole time, from the sweet and gracious woman whose car I totaled, to the hotel owner’s wife who came out to hold my hand and hold an umbrella over me as it was pouring rain, to the state trooper who said, calmly, “This stretch of road has wrecks on it weekly. It’s treacherous and you’re fine, so take a breath,” and since he was an officer of the law I did what he said. From all of those people, I kept getting God’s grace. God’s grace. God’s grace.

But for weeks afterwards, I kept having flashbacks to the wreck. And for weeks, I felt all adrift and frazzled and completely lost when it came to my writing to-do list (which, let’s face it, is never ending).

I needed a break, y’all.

When we take breaks they come in two sizes:

Fun size: Just take a short break, and it’s all fun and maybe a little frivolous and there might be a new location involved. Like this trip, which was so very needed and involved a lot of yummy food and a massage and fluffy robes.

Life size: You don’t have a choice. Life demands you stop, breathe, and redirect. There might be swerving. It’s not on purpose or planned, necessarily. It’s life, and it can be relentless and sometimes a full stop is all you have.

I am not in any way saying that the wreck was a good thing and I needed to mush up someone else’s really expensive car so I can redirect, by the way. I am NOT going there. That’s crazy sauce. But, let’s just accept that as a writer, I have it wired into me to ponder all of it.

Also, it just so happens there WAS some sauce. Because this happened:

The luncheon where I spoke served up a proper North Carolinan barbecue, with all the fixins, right down to the hush puppies. As is North Carolinan way, the coordinators insisted I take a some of the leftovers back to my hotel. And, as is also their way, since there was both chicken AND pulled pork, they ladled up about four pounds of the stuff in two separate containers and carried it all out to my car.

It smelled heavenly. And, it ended up all over the dashboard, the seats, the floor, and the console.

Also on my pants. “Are you injured?” Everyone kept asking. The sauce, you know.

“No,” I shivered. “I’m fine. I’m just so very sorry, but I’m fine.”

And the trooper walked over to the car and opened up the passenger door. “Are you injured?!” he yelled over. I said, “No. I’m just so very sorry, but I’m fine.”

He walked over to me. “Ma’am, have you been drinking this afternoon?”

“No. I’m sorry. But I’m fine.” I was blinking at him. He looked at me, and then looked back to the car. And then… it started to dawn on me.

“It’s barbecue. Sauce. And pulled pork, chicken, and some coleslaw. And hush puppies?”

He nodded slowly.

“I’m not from here. I just got done speaking about being sober mom.” This sentence sounded really dumb, as one does not usually just go around in strange places just blabbering on about sobriety, but after a car wreck no one should be graded on sentence speaking. Then I weakly waved at my name tag for the event. It had sauce on it.

You see, he thought I had upchucked all over the car.

And if that doesn’t really make you crave some good ol North Carolina home cooking, I don’t know.

But I was sober. And I am grateful. And God had my back. And as I have learned in recovery, the big stuff? It’s never really as awful or big as we think because we’re sober. Even rental car insurance stuff (a true test of anyone’s sobriety, if you ask me) is fine.

As long as I’m sober. Gratitude is all.

The rest of it is gravy.

Or sauce. If you will.

9 comments

  1. Dana,
    Wonderful- and how grateful I am that it was just a car accident- and accidents certainly happen. I am grateful you are injury free, writing, sober, and my sister!
    Thank God Almighty- Free at last!
    All my love, love –
    Jenni

  2. “Let’s face it – writing back in the good old days? You just got a quill and some parchment and you pushed your bun back and adjusted your corset and wrote.” This. I needed this today. It made me laugh. Thank you. I’m so clad you’re okay, MOMSIE! 🤗

  3. Thank you for reminding me that grace can redeem even the nasty stuff into some stellar gravy – especially by simmering it all over the steady flame of gratitude. I learned a similar lesson after my own car accident a few years ago, and I need periodic reminders. So heart-glad you’re ok!

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