Somehow, my grandfather misses the turn to get back onto the interstate. Correction, he randomly turns left onto an unknown road that leads to more parking lots and evidently has no return to the main road or the interstate. He does something like this every time he picks someone up from the airport. He gets excited and thinks he needs to do something instead of just staying put and thus, we end up driving in circles through parking lots and connecting shipping docks on the east side of the Sky Harbor Airport. It is already dark and hard to see where we are going and we are nowhere near the airport exit. To his credit, the signs are not at all visible in the dark. They are so reflective they are not productive at all. (Sky Harbor, take note.) To top it off, he can’t hear a thing. In my whole life, I have never known him to be able to hear well, so it is now just a part of his personality. If I needed a defining characteristic when introducing him, I could definitely use, “This is the man who can’t hear,” and it would be accurate.
My mother starts barking orders at my grandfather from the front seat. He is angry at her because she was on the phone with my grandmother telling her to order us some pizza for dinner when he made the mis-turn and so he is barking back at her with accusations of misdirection. They begin into another lovely exchange that is all too familiar as their only means of communication. Even with his hearing aid on, he can’t hear the high pitch of women’s voices and she hasn’t figured out yet to just lower her voice and talk slowly and so they yell at each other instead. I tell my grandfather (in a low and slow voice) to turn around and go back to the road we were just on so we can simply exit. He says we can’t do that because we are on a one-way street, which we are not. We eventually end up back in the passenger pick-up area. The signs get confusing again, but we gradually get out of the mess of it to same road with the potential left turn hazard that leads to the highway.
My mother suddenly looks left as me with what I perceive as surprise. I am still sitting in the middle with my head between the seats.
“Are you surprised to see me here,” I say.
“No, just making sure you’re paying attention to the signs,” she replies and looks straight ahead again. As we drive up the ramp onto the highway, a sure sign we are out, she says, “Well that wasn’t the same way road we were on before, we must be on the other side,” Which is a cue to me that she really did want me to be paying attention to the signs because she was probably as lost as the driver.
Once we are traveling at a normal speed on the highway, the two in the front start to recap the adventure with replays of the actions and the words. They start to bicker a little more over how it should have happened and who did what wrong. I start to settle back into my seat and put my feet up on the console. I am absolutely smiling.
I am laughing to myself as all the commotion surrounds me, the noise in the front seat, the airplanes taking off and landing all around us, my blackberry dinging with all the texts, voicemails, and emails that are coming into my system now that it has been powered back on. It’s one of those moments that if a movie was made of it, there would be hysteria all around and I would be sitting in the middle of it all with a silly grin on my face and a little shoulder twitch of happiness at how giddy I feel to be home. These are the things that make my family mine. I love them for all of it and I can’t imagine my life without all this confusion…and yelling.