It left Cincinnati at 8:04 pm.
At least that's what the tracking website said.
I pictured my box, trundling up a conveyor belt and being tossed from one pair of rough, muscular hands to the next as it blurred past brown uniforms.
It was coming.
That same evening, at 11:49 pm, it arrived in Indianapolis. That was quick. Then it left Indianapolis a mere 26 minutes later and showed up in Hodgkins, IL three hours and two minutes after that. Wow! It traversed three states in one night!
My midnight traveler. I imagined how the music had blared from the truck driver's radio as he rubbed his eyes and sipped his coffee at 2 am, somewhere in the midwest. Bringing me my gift.
Hodgkins, IL. Where was that, anyway? I punched the city name into Google Maps. Oh. Chicago. West Chicago. Well, at least it was on the side of Chicago closest to me.
The next day, nothing. The tracking site still said: "Location: Hodgkins, IL, US. Date: 11/15/08. Local Time: 3:28 am. Description: Arrival Scan."
After that initial flurry of activity, my package was delayed by a national phenomenon affectionately referred to as "the weekend".
So we waited, my husband and I, with baited breath, for different reasons, until Monday morning.
Finally, new information! My present departed the Chicago area at 10:54 am on Monday, November 17!
Willie Nelson began a musical narration in my mind. "On the road again...Becky's box is on the road again..."
When my package didn't show an arrival scan anywhere on Monday evening, and when it didn't show an arrival scan anywhere on Tuesday evening, Jeff and I began to debate.
"I think it will come straight to our metro area without stopping. I think it's going to stay on the same truck and drive straight through. It says it's supposed to arrive on Thursday, and it sounds like it would take about three days to get from Chicago to here," I reasoned.
Jeff replied, "It doesn't take three days. No way. It will stop somewhere if it's not getting here until Thursday. I drove from South Carolina to here in three days, and Chicago is already halfway."
"Yeah, but," I argued, "They have to obey those trucker laws of only driving so many hours a day."
"What if they have a team of drivers?" asked Jeff.
"Well, it's coming Ground, so they don't need a team of drivers. It's not supposed to get here fast."
"Yeah, but, they don't have a separate truck for Three-Day-Select. The Three-Day-Select stuff goes on the same truck as the Ground stuff."
"Well, even if they don't have a separate Three-Day-Select truck that doesn't have any Ground stuff on it, I bet they have a separate Ground truck that doesn't have any Three-Day-Select stuff on it. And I bet my package is on that kind of truck."
Jeff paused, looking at me doubtfully.
"Well," I last-worded, "I guess we'll see who's right on Thursday."
I really wanted to bet him something, but I wasn't entirely sure I was right, so I didn't. I even gave a small concession, just to cover my bases. "Maybe it will stop in Salt Lake City."
Jeff nodded, "That's a major hub."
"Yeah, because that's where stuff would separate if they had packages for California and the Northwest."
After a minute, Jeff said, "But they probably have enough packages to fill a truck coming from Chicago just to our metro area."
The conversation died in speculation as we resumed our habit of checking the tracking website every night and every morning.
But even last night, Wednesday night, before we went to bed, there was no new information. Even though the screen promised that my package was on time and would be delivered on Thursday, it still showed the package leaving Hodgkins on Monday morning with no hint of its route or current location.
But when I awoke this morning, I popped my eyes open and thought, "This is the day! It's coming today!"
Bounding out of bed, I trundled my little self to Jeff's computer in his office. (Jeff's been sharing his computer and his office with me ever since my laptop died last month.) My thoughtful husband had known last night that I'd make a beeline for the computer this morning, so he'd opened up the tracking screen, which sat waiting for me.
With trembly excitement, I clicked the fateful button. "Track."
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! It said, "Location: [Becky's metro area], US. Date: 11/20/08. Local time: 3:45 am. Description: Arrival Scan."
And THEN, just fifteen minutes later, while I slept peacefully, my gift was loaded onto a truck and scanned again. "Out for delivery."
Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy! It made it with just fifteen minutes to spare!
This morning, Jeff braved the pouring rain to trudge out to our mailbox and affix our house number to it, a project we'd been needing to complete ever since we moved into this house nearly a year ago. Then he endured the spattering of heavy drops in his face while he nailed the same number next to our front door.
There was no way the brown-clad delivery guy could miss us. We were sufficiently numbered.
And then we proceeded to busy ourselves while we waited. We knew our package wouldn't come until late in the afteroon because it was Ground. A brown truck sped by around 10:15, but it didn't even slow down. Jeff and I looked at each other meaningfully, knowing the truck was loaded with packages of the Three-Day-Select variety.
But then, around 1 pm, long before expected, I glanced out the window and gasped.
There was the brown truck! And I could see the driver's face! And he could see mine! He grinned at me as he shoved the truck into reverse and backed into our driveway. Did he *know* how excited I was about receiving this package? He couldn't have.
I tried to be casual as I pressed my nose against the windowpane, watching him approach the house. Leaving the window and standing poised to open the door, I waited for his footstep on the wooden deck, hoping to head him off before he rang the doorbell and upset the dogs.
But he was ahead of me. He rang the doorbell when I thought he was still coming up the walk.
In the midst of exuberant barks, I yanked the door open with my cheshire grin to hear the friendly delivery guy spout cheerfully, "It's UPS time!"
Indeed it was. Finally.
I signed for my package, thanked my brown-clad angel profusely, and carried the box to the dining room table. Jeff, who'd been elsewhere on the property, burst through the front door, grinning. "You've got it open before he even got out of the driveway!"
"Yep," I smiled softly.
Jeff, the boys, and I crowded around the table and peered into the box full of packing peanuts. The moment had come.
I removed the packing peanuts one handful at a time into an empty box to keep them from spilling out into the paths of puppies and children, both possessing the desire to transform each packing peanut into a bazillion tiny magnetic pieces I didn't want to clean up.
And at long last, there it was, encased in bubble wrap and chilled by its long November journey.
My new laptop.
A gift from God.
I'm sure you all remember how sad I was when my old one died.
Ever since it died, I've been grieving. Like seriously, actually grieving. Yes. Over a computer.
It took me a while to figure out why, but this past week, I was finally able to articulate it. You see, it's painful for me, physically, to sit at Jeff's computer. And his computer is in a room all by itself (his office), so along with the physical pain came the emotional pain of being away from my children every time I went online.
I go online to write, reach out to women, blog, make money, and keep in touch with nearly all the people I love. My online stuff has enabled me to feel that I am still leading a rich, full life even though my body is so cranky all the time. Therefore, losing my laptop, for this fibro mama, was a bit (but to a starkly lesser degree) like a paraplegic being denied a wheelchair. Does that make sense?
I could have simply changed my lifestyle and quit going online. But that didn't seem to be the direction God was sending me in. In fact, I got the sense all my online stuff would increase. Such a dilemma! And so much pain for my tired body if I was to continue to sit up at Jeff's computer to go online, as opposed to reclining in the living room, near my kids, as I had previously done.
I needed to be more centrally located rather than tucked away in a separate office by myself, and I needed my online activity to be something I could do while resting, as opposed to it being something that caused me to need to sit down and rest.
And then, out of the blue, God provided a laptop.
And despite my great, iron-clad reasons for needing what God provided, a little voice in the back of my mind kept saying, "But lots of people in the world have no shoes and live in cardboard houses, and you can't even go to the next room to use the other computer."
But Velma, my mentor, said that it's dumb not to enjoy the life you've been given just because other people don't have the same life as you. She said it's actually arrogant to deny yourself the blessings of God because He has given different blessings to someone else. She said it's not right to reject what God gives you. She said, in essence, just take the laptop and be thankful for it, for crying out loud!!!
So that is what I intend to do.
Thank You, Abba, for my new laptop.