Field Notes Entry 2: Miraculous Bad Luck

I was still feeling a little lethargic from all the sun when Liv turned to me in the car.

“The check engine light just came on,” she said, as calmly as she could.

We veered off the I-25 North to Denver, taking the next exit on the map. The temperature gauge was well past “H” on the dashboard.

We pulled into a curious looking campground called Yogi Bear’s. Liv hopped out of the car to undo the hood.

“It’s steaming,” she said, dismayed.  

It had been a full day. We left that morning for Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs.

Neither of us could get over how red the rocks were. I felt like I was entering a battle field of red swords, waging war on the earth. The spiky towers of rock sprouting up in only an area of about 15 miles of land. Why these rocks chose this piece of earth to do battle is unclear. Climbers made these rocks home, scrambling up the steep sides of walls and spires.

We made a picnic in a tiny canyon with the least amount of people we could find and reveled in how the sun warmed every inch of our skin.

Liv wore a bohemian-beaded tank top, frayed jeans, and Chacos. She could have been desert princess, with her hair almost matching the color of the rocks and her radiant smile just as bright as the rays of light we now tried to shield with our hands.

As we walked she filmed the scenery anxiously, dodging visitors and small children who weaved in and out of the flow of the natural wonder of  rock formations.

It had been a glorious day, to say the least.

So when the car decided to be not-so-glorious, a hovering fear of discouragement and doubt began to settle on us, like the clouds that now threatened to rain on top of everything, our parade of awe and happy tiredness included.

We tried to start the car again---this time, nothing. It gave a series of irritated grumbles and spurts, like my cat when I wake him up from a 16-hour nap or like the sky, that got blacker by the minute.

We gave up for the time being on AAA, mostly out of frustration, and made the executive decision to wait it out, let the car cool off, and get to the nearest gas station. Liv delicately placed the keys in the ignition after an hour or so, this time the car giving a loud start, coming to life. Both of us exhaled with relief and felt invincible. Look at us, champions of overheated cars and brewing thunderstorms. Nothing could crush us.  

We didn’t get more than a mile, when the check engine light popped on again.

Now stranded on I-25, Liv and I contemplated our options. Just as we tried AAA again, the rain started. Liv phoned a friend to bring us antifreeze.

We almost started laughing, and imagined that it could’ve been a whole lot worse. We were stranded together and had some old queso and chips in the backseat from the night before. Yum.

As we waited for AAA to pick up the phone, the rain got harder.

“What now?” I asked. I looked out the passenger window and not at the highway. The trucks were so loud and made our little car shake. I fiddled with the hem of my dress and Liv tapped her fingers nervously on the steering wheel.

Jodie from AAA finally picked up our call. A tow truck would reach us in about an hour and half. OH thank the Lord for sweet, sweet Jodie.

 “At least I’m getting a free car wash!” Liv exclaimed enthusiastically. She lifted the mood like magic. “If that’s not miraculous bad luck, than I don’t know what is.”

 Like it was planned,  I kid you not, a rainbow appeared, hovering over the miles of forest out the passenger window. We laughed hysterically. For as long as I have known Liv, we have managed to be happily stuck in these miraculous bad luck situations together. They are the memories we remember the most, and sometimes wish we could go back to.

Miraculous bad luck is this idea that even when everything has gone horribly wrong, there is nothing but goodness in the situation. I think God has always played a significant role in times like these. I have found that when tough situations can be looked at through this lens of optimism, nothing will ever be as bad as it seems. And whether that’s a good or bad thing, I can’t say. But it prolongs the doubt until there’s absolutely no room for it, not even in the steaming hood of the car or the massive, thundering trucks that passed us.

 Doubt has no place in miraculous bad luck, and that’s what makes it beautiful

 “We have to document this,” Liv said, pulling out her camera.

I laughed. Of course we did.

I like to think the silly video we took of ourselves, sunburned and dirt-caked, sitting in Liv’s little car, in the rain, only acts as a testament to all the doubt in the world.

Like I said, nothing could crush us. Not even a broken down car or old queso or lack of planning.

Rather, I think, we crushed it.