Charyl Says

Lost… and Found
February 5, 2013, 11:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

There are some experiences in life that need to be told; there just doesn’t seem to be a good way to tell them.  So you keep those experiences mostly to yourself—not so much out of fear, but because you can’t seem to dig deep enough to find the necessary words; and telling only part of the story doesn’t really do it justice.  It’s a piece of you that, unless given away completely, will never touch another’s psyche enough to make a true impression.  The last couple of years of my life have held the same kind of tale partially told to a select few, that hopefully by the end of this entry, will no longer be as such.

The story begins on a relatively mild afternoon in October of 2010.  After spending the weekend enjoying the company of a group of some paranormally-minded friends in Central Pennsylvania, I was headed to I-70 and a six-hour trip back to Southwestern Ohio.  I remember feeling a bit emotionally unsettled at the thought of leaving—incompleteness, a heaviness in my chest.  The sky was overcast and blindingly white—but no rain, no wind.  The calm before the storm—figuratively and literally.  Suddenly, it was as if an enormous hole in the sky opened up, spilling light from the heavens onto the valley along the highway.  Taken aback by the impromptu show I was witnessing I, of course, stopped to take a picture…


The sight inspired a moment of awe and of comfort.  Though, perhaps it should have induced a bit of fear—as I’ve since learned these awesome natural displays always seem to precede a hardship or tragedy in my life.  I suppose it’s the Creator’s way of saying, “There’s something horrific coming… but don’t worry, because I’m with you.”  Endearing, yet unnerving, all the same.

As I started back on the road, an unusual observation struck me.  I had noticed that barely any cars passed me in the last hour or so I had been driving.  I was beginning to feel disconnected—like I was the only soul left on Earth… or at least in Pennsylvania.  In this frame of mind, I drove several more minutes, stopping only briefly for a snack.  I found myself cruising through a small town; a sense of uneasiness creeping in.  It dawned on me that I wasn’t sure that I recognized this place.  Was I lost?  And if so, when exactly did I veer off course?

That was the last thought I remember.  Suddenly, I went from slowly driving through what I thought to be a Southwestern Pennsylvanian town on a small highway in the overcast light of the late afternoon, sprinkles of rain just starting to touch my windshield -–to complete darkness, pouring rain, speeding down some unknown freeway.  Time somehow got away from me.  By that, I don’t mean that time seemed to go by faster—but that I literally “lost” about an hour of time.  I have no recollection of how I got from where I was, to that dark, chaotic freeway.  Even today I don’t think I could point out on a map exactly where I was that night.

One instant it was daylight and I knew somewhat where I was—the next I was driving 65 mph on some kind of narrow, curvy speedway in total darkness.  Cars were closing in on all sides of me, as I tried to avoid hitting the concrete construction blocks placed on both sides of the road.  The rain was blinding and I was completely unaware of where I was or in which direction I was heading.  I could barely see out the windshield.  The next several minutes were ones of sheer terror, as I tried to stay calm enough to keep control of the car and to look for somewhere to pull-off in order to check my GPS.

I don’t know how I managed to survive that ordeal without getting into a serious accident.  It was only when the road widened and straightened and the traffic thinned out that I was able to calm a bit and think.  Unable to find an open off-ramp I took my chances and pulled out my phone, fumbling to locate my position on the tiny machine.  It gave my location to be just northwest of Pittsburgh, heading north (several miles away from and in the opposite direction of I-70)—before giving me an error that it was unable to find my location.

I knew I must head south.  At one point I was able to find a turn-around—but my GPS was all over the place.  Sometimes it gave me a glimpse of where I actually was; other times it told me I was in Aliquippa, then Louisiana, then Texas.  Though the highway signs indicated I was headed south, the GPS said I was headed north and vice versa.  The directional signs somehow seemed to change (literally) every time I came upon a new one–as if they were changing before my very eyes.

Completely turned around, my equipment going haywire, I began to feel like the ill-fated “Flight 19” of whatever Bermuda Triangle of Western Pennsylvania I had been caught up in.  At one point, in desperation, I tweeted that I had become insanely lost, was far off from my intended path, and was just plain scared (one could probably still find those tweets if he or she had the patience to scroll through 2 ½ years of my posts).  I received advice to stay calm and find a place to stop.  While the reaching out of another human being helped settle me down—finding that place to stop was elusive.   Like Ivy in ‘The Village’ in a state of sheer panic, I was lost and blindly trying to escape the “creature” in the woods.

After an hour or so of darkness and rain, back and forth, confusion and fear—exhaustion was beginning to set in—not to mention hysteria.    Finally, I came upon an exit that seemed to have a few basic amenities.  It was starting to get fairly late, and even once I found my way to I-70, I’d still have at least four hours of driving alone to go.  I considered trying to find a room—but something inside of me told me that I shouldn’t stay; that I shouldn’t stop until I had reached the Interstate and the Ohio border, and was released from this God-forsaken blackhole.

Tears streaming down my face, barely able to breath—I pulled onto the side road.  The rain had begun to die down and there was hardly another soul to be seen.  A small gas station stood like an oasis at the end of the lot.  Grateful to be able to stand on solid ground (even if I didn’t know exactly where that ground was) and knowing I needed to fill the tank and empty my bladder (a need that had been neglected in the chaos), I pulled up to a pump and stepped out into the cold, wet air–shivering profusely.

When everything was taken care of, I approached the counter trying my best to contain just how mentally and physically shaken I was.  I expected to see a large, rough-looking middle-aged man standing behind the cash register.  After all, this was a tiny run-down gas station at night in the middle of nowhere, more or less.  Instead I saw a petite, thirty-something blonde woman—not much bigger than myself.  I was astonished at her gumption in her chosen workplace.

Since my GPS refused to work correctly and there was no way I could place my location on a map manually, I gingerly asked her how I might find the Interstate.  I can’t remember the exact directions she gave me—but with a twinge of a southern accent and calling me “honey,” she matter-of-factly and clearly explained what ramp I needed to get onto and what road would take me there.  Her smile and confidence calmed me and I got back into my car and headed off—thankful for the middle-of-nowhere, blonde angel that had been set on my path.

When I finally merged onto I-70 and crossed into Ohio via Wheeling, I was still exhausted—but the heavy, dark curtain that had been dropped over me, fell away.  The rest of the trip was uneventful, and I arrived back in the Dayton area around midnight, collapsing into bed shortly thereafter.

The next morning I woke up in a near-crippled state.  My body was so exhausted I could barely stand, and my mind in such a fog that I had trouble stringing even a few words together.  My children’s father (by then my ex) had to take on the job of getting the kids to school and even had to call into work for me—as I could not speak coherently.  I spent the rest of the day sleeping, stumbling around like a dementia patient, and recovering.

While I’ve had other near life-threatening and just plain strange events happen to me in the last several years (which would fill up a whole other blog—some truly bizarre and oddly-timed happenings, but also some amazingly loving, synchronous, and perhaps divine experiences, as well), I had to ask myself exactly why this happened to me and why it happened the way it did.  With the awesome sign in the sky that preceded the event, then my “savior” in the out-of-place gas station attendant—it was almost as if God “allowed” this to happen to open my eyes; that something was unleashed on me to give me that experience of terror—but in actuality, I was never truly alone or in danger.  Something I think must be true of many of my more harrowing life experiences.

While I was clearly shaken during this ordeal, I’ve learned something from it (and from other instances):  fear will sink you.  The best thing someone can do when approached or descended upon by a force such as this is to keep your emotions in check… to keep calm (no matter how difficult that may be).  It feeds on strong emotion, anger, and fear.  Like a bully, if you take away its entertainment in witnessing your dramatic reaction and give it very little to feed off of, it will eventually back down (at least for awhile).

A year later in October of 2011, I decided to return to the Pittsburgh area to prove to myself that I was strong enough to face it again.  I picked a weekend, a spot I’d like to visit (which ended up being the Carnegie Museum), a cheap hotel—and I set off…  alone.  Other than some annoying minor traffic back-ups, a bit of emotional influencing, and my GPS going somewhat haywire again (which is something that has rarely happened elsewhere.  I swear some kind of supernatural, magnetic blackhole exists in Western PA.  Thankfully, I brought a physical map this time)—all was fine.

Bravery has its own rewards.

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Keeping My Hands Busy
February 5, 2013, 1:15 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,
Just wanted to share some of my handiwork. I made a group of these to sell as a lot for re-sale by a gift/craft shop or vendor (would be great for those who make gift baskets as well)–pass it on to any business-owners you think might be interested please! (And of course, if an individual just wants to buy the lot for personal use, that’s great too!)…

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