I live in Tuscarawas County, Ohio. Obviously. (I know, I know. Good-bye anonymity! As if I ever had it…so while I’m at it, if you live here, too, be sure to come to My OH! Monday. I’ll be there in all my round and pregnant glory!) And when I head for the highway, I always pass this county road sign.

TUSH. Hehe.

The abbreviation for our county on those kinds of signs is TUS. Someone added a letter H. So it says, “TUSH.” Hehe. TUSH. I can’t really explain why this makes my heart feel so good. All I know is, my kids believe the only way we can access 77 North is to sing the intro to the ZZ Top song.

And so began our journey yesterday. We were heading to Canton after I made the strategic decision to take my van, Stella, because 1) she has air conditioning (and it’s broken in every.other.car. we own) and 2) she had enough gas for the trip so we wouldn’t have to put more in Dave’s car before our next payday. And Lord knows, a tank of gas can make all the difference when money is tight. The children need milk, after all.

We made it to our exit and were sitting on the downhill exit ramp at a red light when it happened. Our brakes went out. Dave later said that it felt like a bubble popped under the peddle, it went to the floor and SMACK! We hit the car in front of us. I started freaking out, OF COURSE. It’s what I do. And the way you freak out when you’re pregnant is to grab your belly and scream – because that’s what nature tells you to do! DANGER means PROTECT THE BELLY. Dave quickly wondered VERY LOUDLY if I was in labor and by then the kids were screaming and crying. But then I realized I had a job to do, I took some deep breaths and said, “Okay. Okay! It’s okay. We’re alright.”

The light turned green and the man in front of us – you know, the one whose ass we were up – gave us a wave and took off. A man we spoke to later said, “That’s lucky,” but I don’t know, considering I’m waiting for the cops to come break down the door and get us because we crashed into someone and didn’t hand over our insurance, our bank account and Julia to make it right. But the thing that really matters in this story right now is that when the dude took off, we had nothing holding us back and so we started to drift into the very busy intersection ahead. Dave used the emergency brake, which stopped us. Sideways. And in a cloud of smoke, which may have been cool in a Dukes of Hazzard kind of way had my children not been poking out into oncoming traffic.

At that point, we had a decision to make: turn left to go up the very steep hill or right to go down the very steep hill. We had to move and there was no place to pull to the side. So, we went uphill. Lucy had gotten distracted by then and was singing “Mama Mia…here I go again! Ma ma, how can I resist ya?” Julia was shrieking that we were going to die. I kept saying, “We’re fine. We’re fine. Daddy will get us out of this.” And he did. We made it to the nearest brake shop. Fifteen minutes after it was closed.

We spent the next hour in a Subway restaurant with no air conditioning waiting for a tow truck for Stella and a ride from my mother…in her car…with no air conditioning. And now, $250 later, a tank of gas doesn’t seem all that pricey.