Thursday, May 31, 2018

Making It Real

I sat down about six weeks ago and gave myself a deadline to figure out some truths about my life and what it is I want for myself in these coming days, months and years as I begin again on my own. The truth is,  I'm never really on my own - in the way that someone who is as care for and rich in friends as I am. My family both by marriage and by birth - have been incredibly supportive and helpful in ensuring I know that I am loved. My friends both near and far have been incredible and truthfully, the beauty that's come from the ashes of this marriage is that I know that there are people around the world that very literally have my back. I have been the recipient of messages and notes and gift cards and reminders that I am loved. I don't know if I can ever adequately express how deeply those things have settled in me to remind me that I am worthy of love and that I am not alone.

In the past month, there have been reminders of who I am and who I remain despite the impending change of marital status. For now, I am still legally married and for that reason, I remain in a sort of waiting period while that works its way to completion. I was feeling incredibly vulnerable heading into May because it began a period of memorable occasions for my relationship with Jason. There was the anniversary of our first kiss and the accompanying sadness for all that has transpired in the years since. Somehow, those details felt incredibly heavy to carry in the weeks leading up to that date.  I was trying to remember who it was I fell in love with and equally, who it was he fell in love with. All I remember is I was a girl with a van and crutches that sat on the railing of a bar while he danced beside me...and the end of the evening when he kissed me goodnight through the van window and I knew I was in love.

Fast forward 26 years and as May 8th crept towards me, I couldn't stop trying to figure out who I was and how I was so happy in those years.  Of course, youthfulness and the hope of a long life laid out before you is key in those days but at the same time, there was something in myself in those days that I was hoping to recapture. I remember being confident. I remember being hopeful. I remember being free.  These days, I am regaining confidence, I do my best to remain hopeful and I am struggling to feel "free" versus feeling rejected. It's been a process and I'm going to say, knowing full well it will come back to bite me, that I'm feeling more and more like myself.

This May, I did something to remind myself of some pretty key things in my life. It was selfish, empowering, frustrating, terrifying and incredibly fun. I bought myself another VW Van.  She's a project and she's broken and rusted and going to be a lot of work...but she's also the marker for this time in my life to return to things that I love for my own enjoyment. I am naive enough to believe that with the help of YouTube, a VW manual and a lot of asking around, that I can restore this broken girl back to her best version of herself.  She's become a metaphor for my own life in a lot of ways. It's no coincidence that I bought her on a Wednesday in May and picked her up the following week....on May 8th, 2018. 

I've driven her with a big grin on my face, Charlie in the back and the windows down and I've sniffed in the air the scent of what it means to feel free again. To be happy. To be hopeful. I know it's fleeting. I've also driven her to work and had the gas pedal fall off and had to jump a fence to get to work and wait for a tow truck on the side of the highway. If ever there was a parallel to real life, this sweet van is it.

I've only had her a few weeks and I've been introduced to the VW repair kit of duct tape and zipties as well as the real deal of circuit testers and sparking fuseboxes.  She leaks oil. She slips out of 4th gear when you least expect it and she still sounds like she's got a road trip or two or four in her that will keep the love alive for at least a few years.

I had a moment last week of "what the h-e-double-hockey-stick" was I thinking but not in a "buyer's remorse" sort of way...more in a wake up call to the naivety of my "I can do this" thinking as I looked at the wiring diagram for malfunctioning brake lights for hours and still couldn't figure out if I had the thing the right way up or not. And yet, it's all stretching my mind in new directions. There's literally grease in the crevices of my aging hands and yet instead of stressing me out, it's giving me direction.

I came home from hanging out on my neighbour's deck the other night to find Easton and two other neighbourhood guys hanging out, sanding paint and chattering around the van with all the doors wide open. The van isn't just about my freedom or my purpose. It's been fun to hang out with Easton and figure out the ins and outs of which button does what and where this wire ends and what pieces are salvageable and what we need to be replaced.

This whole thing, it turns out, isn't a solitary restoration. I have friends in Texas and in BC and in Zambia that are wondering if I got the brake lights working and how I'm going to address the fact that Charlie is too ...ahem...wide for the front seat.  There's people along for the ride, if you allow me to stretch the metaphor. You may be one of them.

My personal restoration isn't as solitary as I imagined it was at first either. Sure, there are things that only I can fix or assess or figure out about myself, but I know too, that there are those who are along for the ride. I'm back in the driver's seat, figuratively and literally, in my own life.  It starting to feel less lonely and more independent. It's less of a sharp pain and more of a dull's liveable and that's something.  I'm picking up the pieces of myself that are salvageable and there's more to work with than I could visualize even three months ago, never mind six months ago or a year ago.

Today, I'm hopeful that both the van and I will be more than roadworthy in the coming weeks and months. I'm holding on to that for as long as it lasts and I've got more than enough roadside assistance for when we break down again.