One hundred and eighty miles outside of Staunton, VA, on the way to our Farm Story farmhouse location, my Subaru Forester fell apart. It had been acting up pretty much since we'd left NYC that morning trailed by a fourteen passenger van stuffed full of cast, crew, and equipment, and to that point I'd managed to convince myself that it was just the car showing its 13 years and 200,000 miles; when the steering wheel started to shimmy and my sister, who was driving, had veins popping in her arms trying to hold onto it, I figured something a little more serious might be going on.
We pulled into a gas station, followed by the van. Sunday afternoon in rural America; they couldn't help us. Potential disaster loomed: not only was the Subaru stuffed with equipment and luggage, it was also our picture car. We'd already shot NYC footage with it, and needed it for several VA scenes too. Nervous breakdown in 3...2... Jess texted her parents, who were on their way down for the shoot and, in a stroke of luck, had just passed us. They turned around immediately and headed our way.
Back at the Subaru, fourteen virtual strangers stood in the parking lot wondering what the hell we were going to do. One of our actors, Logan, pulled a MacGyver and slid under the car with his knife to try and sort things out. The Subaru refused to be sorted. I called my husband back in CT. Our Director of Photography Alex pulled out his camera and started shooting the whole mess. I paused in my nervous breakdown to hope my hair would look good on camera. Vanity never takes a rest. At least not mine. Anyhoo...
Jess's mom and dad arrived. We decided the best course of action was to shove equipment and luggage into the parental mini-van and then Jess et al would head to Staunton while Kel and I stayed behind with the car; Tom and Theresa agreed to wait with us and bring us to Staunton if necessary. Our first order ofbusiness was to frantically Google till we found an auto shop open on Sunday afternoon. And we did! Mr. Tire! Not a mile away! My sis and I shimmied over there in the Subaru. Tom and Theresa followed.
I gave Mr. Tire (not his real name) my sob story; he agreed to look at my car, and had his guy put it up on the lift thingee. A few minutes later he returned to ask me if I'd recently 1) hit something HUGE ("No," I said. "Yes," Kel said. "That pothole in NYC.") because 2) the alignment was shot which3) put uneven pressure on the front right tire which in turn had 4) gone egg-shaped and was 5) causing the car to buck. (I'd also managed to sever the tailpipe but that was not discovered till I returned to CT and my husband did HIS MacGyver thing under the car.) And, they could fix it but it would cost 7) about $1800 and 8) not tonight because 9) his guys had to get home. The hefty bill had me wheezing. The thought of spending the night in PA when the car and I and my sister (our script supervisor!) were needed first thing in the morning in Staunton had me on the verge of hysterics.
I knew I was going to cry. I was horrified. Mr. Tire was horrified. "Now don't get upset," he said. "I'll see what my guys say." He disappeared into the back and had a conversation I assume went something like this:
"Don't panic boys but there's a crazy woman out front."
"I thought there were two."
"Only one of 'em seems crazy."
My sister the non-crazy one kept reminding me to breathe (ALWAYS travel with a therapist, I tell you what) until Mr. Tire returned with the good and VASTLY more expensive news that they would stay late and fix the car for me. Rejoice, and pull out the MasterCard. I did, they did, and ninety minutes and $2500 later we were on our way.
Now you're probably thinking "How awful! How stressful! What a terrible start to your adventure!
Because the unexpected is what adventure's all about. Because here's what I actually remember about that day:
- the sweet support of our AMAZING NYC cast and crew.
- my sister making me laugh in the midst of the madness.
- Tom and Theresa, ever calm, sitting in their car, reading while we figured things out.
- the group in the van cheering over the phone when I called Jess to say the car was fixed and we were on our way.
- my folks, already in Staunton, calling to tell me not to worry, they were picking up pizza for everyone and would meet them at the house.
- Logan and his knife.
- Alex and his camera.
- the excitement of meeting our VA cast and crew at the farmhouse.
- My brother, also waiting for us in Staunton, texting the right words at the right time: "this is the one big fuck up every project has. Smooth sailing from here on in. Breathe and get your asses here, you've got a TV show to make."
And most of all:
Finally getting to the farmhouse in Staunton, seeing it all lit up against the September night, knowing it was full of strangers, not yet knowing how quickly they would become family.
What a good time we had. =)