There are moments in life when you really have to pause and consider: “What horrible thing did I do in my past to deserve this?”

Recently I was in St. Louis, Missouri for a bookstore event. I was raised in St. Louis and – given that there would be people at this event who were not only in the book but who might want to set me on fire afterwards – I was a trifle nervous. As such, I probably should have driven to the bookstore alone in order to have time to compose either myself or my will.

I chose, instead, to drive my parents and I in my glamorous Rent-A-Wreck rental car. Of course, having been living in LA for the past 22 years, I didn’t exactly remember how to get to the bookstore in question, so I brought along my portable GPS.

It was freaking hot, being June, and the air conditioning was on full tilt in an effort to keep my parents cool in the back seat. Why, you may be wondering, were my parents sitting in the back seat of this PT Cruiser like it was a stretch limo? Because in the front seat sat my severely autistic nephew, Brian, who we needed to drop off at his dad’s house on the way.

I absolutely adore Brian – he’s a big bundle of love – but a child this challlenged is a major handful, and on this particular night, he was WOUND UP. Whether it was being in a car he didn’t recognize, or being with me, or being excited about seeing his dad, he was in full Autism overload – shrieking, bouncing against the back of the car seat, waving his hands like a symphony conductor on crystal meth.

Then my dad couldn’t remember how to get to Brian’s father’s house.

The, as the air conditioning blasted, the GPS lady yelled at me for making wrong turns.

All the while, Brian screamed and shouted, the top of his head threatening to blow off like a Roadrunner cartoon, and my parents hollered turn suggestions from the back seat, all of which turned out to be wrong.

We eventually had to call my sister for directions, and, exasperated, she began yelling at me.

And I began to wonder what would happen if I just drove the whole lot of us into a ditch.

This probably sounds pretty minor in the scheme of things. I mean, it wasn’t like I was lying in a ditch. That probably would have been a larger cause for concern. But for someone who was trying to maintain an equanimity (and denial) over the fact that I would soon be standing before people I hadn’t seen in 20 or 30 years (many of whom for good reason), it was, in the moment, pretty damn tense.

But then, I arrived – and saw the bounty of wonderful people from my past who had so kindly shown up to support me, smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. And all my stress evaporated.

And since I was able to get out of there before any of them read too far into the book, no one was maimed.

All’s well that ends well.