With the kids’ busy schedules, it’s been hard to find time to visit my parents in Arlington. This past weekend we were finally able to make a lightning strike visit that lasted less than 24 hours.
We weren’t going to able to leave Charlottesville until after 6 pm on Friday night, so I told my early-to-bed parents in advance that they should go to sleep and that we would see them the next morning. Meanwhile, I made arrangements with my best friend who lives in Maryland to meet up that evening. With three kids of her own and a job to juggle, these occasional late night get-togethers are usually the only times we get to see each other.
The kids and I tiptoed into my parents’ house at around 9 pm. I got the kids settled into their fold-out beds in the basement, and then crept back upstairs to wait for my friend to arrive after her own kid-chauffeuring shift ended. At 10 pm she finally tapped on the door, and we slipped out of the house. My sister had still not gotten home, so I sent her a text explaining where I was and asked her not to lock me out.
Wild and crazy party animals that we are, my friend and I drove around looking for a coffee shop that was still open. Everything was closed, so we settled for the 24 hour Harris Teeter. We slowly ambled up and down the aisles, getting caught up on each other’s lives and admiring the produce.
There are only so many hours that you can spend in Harris Teeter before you simply have to move on.
We drove back to my parents’ house where my sister’s car was now parked in the driveway. We sat in my car chatting for another hour. At around 1 am I saw the light go off in my sister’s room and I got slightly nervous. Might she have spotted my parked car, assumed I’d returned for the evening, and then locked the door? To my dismay, my suspicions were confirmed. The door had indeed been locked.
No matter. The light had only just gone out, so I was sure my sister was not yet asleep. I knocked on the door, hoping that it wasn’t loud enough to wake my parents, but just loud enough so that my sister would hear me. I was relieved when the living room light went on, but puzzled when it went back out again moments later. This happened a couple more times. I started knocking again, a little more loudly, but my sister didn’t open the door. I even knocked on her bedroom window. The door remained shut. By this time my dear friend had joined me on the doorstep. She stood there shivering in solidarity, while I began to lose my mind.
I hated to freak out my children by waking them up out of a sound slumber with a knock on the basement window, but I had no other recourse. I ran around to the back of the house and knocked and knocked to no avail. I can’t remember now how many times I went back and forth from front to back, trying windows, back doors, and knocking, knocking, knocking…
Eventually, my son woke up and saw me at the window. The poor boy looked utterly dazed and bewildered to see me wildly gesticulating at the window. Finally, he understood the problem and I ran around to the front door to wait for him to open it. Strangely, it remained locked.
Had he gone back to sleep, thinking it had all been a dream?
I ran around to the back again and finally realized he had opened the basement door rather than the front door. I ran inside and up the stairs to retrieve the bags I had left on the front doorstep.
My sister and mother and son were waiting for me in the living room.
They had heard my knocking all right.
At 1 am, my mother had gone to the kitchen to get some medicine for her aching legs. She had noticed the headlights on a car she didn’t recognize and was immediately suspicious.
My sister was heading to the living room to open the door for me when she met my mother there.
“Turn out the light! Don’t open the door!” my mother hissed at her.
“It’s probably Adrienne,” my sister replied as she continued toward the door.
“NO!” my mother insisted, waving her away. “She’s asleep downstairs. It’s an old man and an old woman. (“It was dark, and you were walking so slowly,” was her only explanation for this when I asked her about this later). If we pretend we’re not here, they’ll go away.”
“Let me look out the window – I bet it’s Adrienne.”
“NO! It’s an old man and an old woman. If you look out the window, they’ll know we’re here. Don’t open the door!”
“Well, then let’s call 911,” my sister said and she got out her phone.
Later she explained: “And that’s when I turned around to see a really tall, scary man standing in the living room!” (In case you haven’t figured it out, that tall, scary man would be my son).
And that’s when I ran through the living room, breathless and within minutes of getting hauled off to jail for breaking and entering.