The Daily Post has asked us to describe the last time our lives mimicked the quote, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” Charles Dickens
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It is amazing to me that I can think of the worst times of my life so easily and it seems more than a little bit odd that I have a hard time remembering the best times. I am not sure what that says about me and perhaps it cues a desire to change my inner thought processes.
The mixing of those moments though is indeed hard to whittle out of the block of wood that has become my past.Maybe I am still too stunned by some of my recent worst times to see much good in them, though God knows I have tried. Maybe too, it seems almost inappropriate to say that certain of my worst moments could have any redeeming qualities at all; So maybe the difficulty is not so much in finding a moment that holds the best and the worst but in finding one that feels safe enough to speak openly about.
I am reaching for a moment in my distant past now (25 years or better). I was a newlywed. How could it get any better? We had married and moved in with my parents for a two month stint before our apartment opened up in Phoenixville PA.
It was the weekend before the New Year, 1988. The Uhaul was rented and loaded with all of our earthly belongings. My Father-in-law drove the van and Tina and I drove our car. What should have been a six-hour drive turned into twelve hours when we got lost on the NJ Turnpike and overshot our exit.
I noticed as we came down the I76 out of Philadelphia that the lock had come undone to the moving van and the back doors were threatening to spill open. Anybody who has ever tried to pull over on that particular road heading out of Philly will understand my pain; But pull over we did. We managed to fix the door only to become separated from each other as we made our way past the Allen Town Extension. These were the days before Mapquest or GPS systems.My father-in-law had never been to the campus. But we serve a God of miracles. We somehow found each other at the light before the turnoff to the college and upon arrival my father-in-law did not insist his daughter get back in the van to take her away from her new whackadoo husband.
We walked into our new apartment. The walls were a neon blue. The rug was a thick shag in the brightest of oranges. Someone else’s couch lined our wall. A window pane had been knocked out of the bedroom and someone had stolen the shower head right out of the shower. Then my wife noticed we had no oven and what amounted to a hot plate to cook off of.
My mother-in-law gripped her daughter’s hand as she looked up dubiously at the walls and said, “It’s amazing what soap and water can do Honey.”
By the following day we had a new shower head and the window had been fixed. The tenant who had stored his couch in our apartment came to get it and we were completely settled into our new place (well as settled as you can get when your walls are blue and your carpet is orange). My in-laws had said a tearful good-bye and Tina and I had begun the first chapter of our lives together. The best of times and the worst of times.