A Nomad’s Notes: Making and keeping connections

This past Friday night, I was planning on going to my gym in Holden Beach. And has become my routine, so I can say I’ve seen the ocean, what I like to do is drive over the bridge and back before actually going to work out.

But on Friday night as I crossed the bridge I remembered the recent drowning on the east end of the beach, so I decided as some way to let the victim know that someone in Holden Beach was still thinking of him, I drove down to the public access near 315 Ocean Blvd. E. — a home I wrote about at the beginning of the year, and the first connection in this tale.

I parked in the lot and got out to stand on the dock overlooking the water. The moon wasn’t out and manmade light sources were few and far between, so essentially the only light came from the parking lot street light and the stars, including the veiled but still present Milky Way band we can see.

For as long as I can remember, I have been afraid of the dark and I’ve been afraid of falling and weightlessness — of being chaotically hurled into the darkness with no sense of relief. So every time I make my way to a darkened beach, part of me panics. But I tried to ignore that to appreciate the beauty of the stars. I was feeling especially spiritually connected that night, and probably even talked to God a little bit. I asked God to show me one shooting star before I left, and at one point I turned my head to look back at my car only to hear a particularly loud wave crash on shore. As I did, I saw a shooting star fall and decided to connect this event with God making that particular wave powerful so I’d see what I wanted to see. Another connection

But my little spiritual saga came to a screeching halt in my car, Elaine, which decided not to start. I got in, turned the key and Elaine (named for my late grandmother, who changed her name to Joan cause she hated Elaine) made revving sounds, but high-pitched ones like a dying animal, refusing to start.

I said, “Oh, no,” as soon as she wouldn’t start, but then my mind immediately made a connection to earlier in the day, when my car began making strange sounds that morning at Shallotte Middle School. As I left work, the sounds got a bit worse, but somehow when I reached the beach I had forgotten all about them. So when I got back in my car I realized I should’ve seen — or rather, heard — it coming.

I decided not to panic too much and laugh off the incident as much as I could, because at least I wasn’t about to make a four-hour journey home, like I was two years ago when my car last died. It was a Friday and I was not even 20 minutes from home. It was only a matter of getting there.

So I used my journalist and social powers to reach out to as many people as I could think to ask in that moment who would have some help or at the very least some advice about what might be wrong with the car and what I should do; a neighbor, a police chief, my family, my coworkers.

In particular, I knew a selfless person who would be willing to lend a hand was my editor, who I knew was still at the office. I tried to reach her on her cell phone (which I forgot doesn’t get a signal in our office) and by email. Not 10 minutes later, she emailed back to say she was gathering her things and on her way to me.

When she arrived, we immediately set about using her cables to attempt to jumpstart my car—something I never learned how to do properly and still don’t even after Friday. But somehow, even following printed directions just to be on the safe side, we couldn’t get them connected correctly. Any time Jackie attempted to put one of the cables on a piece of metal as instructed, it sparked. The effort ultimately fried her cables. Luckily, there was no fire and I made a call to 911.

Within about 20 minutes, a Holden Beach officer named Michael Hamilton was on the scene. I immediately smiledupon seeing him because Michael and I had connected nearly a year ago, when he pulled me over late one night in Holden Beach because he thought I was doing a donut. In reality I was — as I had been doing on this trip — admiring the ocean view and realized before I headed to the bridge that there was a fancy house down the opposite way I wanted to see (sometimes the truth sounds so lame). We talked for about two hours on a whole array of subjects I can’t remember. He was incredibly nice and I didn’t even get a warning for my “fauxnut” car maneuver. I’d seen him at least once since then, but it’d been some time.

As Michael pulled in, he said he probably knew about as much as we did about jumpstarting a car, which had me envisioning a fire engine soon venturing down the bumpy road to where we were. Thank goodness we had no need, because Michael left and soon came back with a jump box to do the trick. Now, when it came to the moment of truth, I didn’t have much hope that would do the trick as I put my keys in the ignition. As my car is a teenager in age, I had a feeling it might be the alternator or even the starter, as it was when my car last broke down. But once the jump box had been connected long enough, Elaine roared back to life and so did I.

Once I thanked Michael by giving him an enthusiastic hug. My boss insisted on following me home to make sure I got home OK, and she did just that, making sure we stayed connected by driving behind me the entire time. I want to thank her for her selflessness and to remind her she’ll have new cables and some good brew soon as a thank you!

The next morning I woke up a bit stressed, as I had to cover an event in Bolivia and was petrified my car wasn’t up to the task. But despite a few putters, Elaine did indeed come to life that morning, and I was so excited about that that I actually left my camera at home. Thank goodness for smartphone cameras.

As I parked my car at Brunswick Community College for Brunswick Electric Membership Corp.’s annual meeting, I decided to take all my valuables out of my car and just let Elaine purr while I did my work quickly — it was either that or worry about her dying and needing a tow truck, and having a car towed isn’t fun.

I didn’t stay at the event for an incredibly long time Saturday morning, but even in the relatively brief time I was there I was amazed at how many connections I made with people in my life. I saw coworkers and former Beacon employees. I saw my neighbors, one of whom works for BEMC, and he even connected with me to let me know I could get freebies at the event (thanks, John!). I even saw my therapist for the first time outside of her office, and immediately freaked out because she was amazing.

One of the best parts of being a journalist is the connections you make. I know so many people in the community because of this job.

I’m a social person. An extrovert. Someone who doesn’t shut up in real life or on paper (this column is already well over 1,000 words). I thrive when I talk to others. So this job provides the perfect opportunity to let me talk until I lose my voice, which I almost did late Saturday night.

I need connections of all kinds, and this weekend, plenty of them were made.

Lindsay Kriz is a staff writer for the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email lkriz@brunswickbeacon.com.