Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thoughts About the Road

The Whale

Funny how my vehicles tell me what they want to be named. First I had “The Beast,” a.k.a. my 1993 4-Runner. Now it’s “The Whale,” a 2002 Ford Windstar cargo van, which has turned out to be a problem child. Had to have the fuel pump and timing chain replaced in Colorado Springs over Labor Day, then discovered a cracked oil pan which is being fixed as I write this. I guess it was too much to hope for a repair-free vehicle purchased from a buy-here-pay-here car lot. Oh well. I’m just thankful to still have enough money left in my savings to have it fixed.

Pimping My Ride

The ergonomics of the Windstar leave much to be desired, with a too-small steering wheel, an awkward angle to the gas pedal and a hard, squished-down driver’s seat. All this wouldn’t be such a big deal if not for the long hours I have to spend driving, including the 40 hr. drive to Puerto Vallarta. I went online and found two “suicide” spinner knobs, which I’ve clamped to either side of the steering wheel. I now have a nice wide steering radius. I grip the knobs like an adolescent boy grabbing his girlfriend’s boobs. I also purchased a gel cushion like those used by long-distance truck drivers and placed it under the worn, but serviceable sheepskin seat covers I found at a yard sale in the Springs this summer. To solve the gas-pedal-cramped-foot problem, I bought one of those nylon micro-bead pillows which I can place under my heel to cushion my foot as I drive.

A Terrifying Senior Moment

Just before the Labor Day weekend, I emerged from the house with car keys in hand to go meet my friend Rheta for lunch. I looked down the street where I normally park the van and realized it was GONE. A wave of nausea washed over me and the words “Ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod, ohmygod” poured out of me in an unconscious, primordial torrent. I stumbled into the house, hyperventilating, on the verge of passing out. I managed to call Rheta – my car’s been stolen,” I said, then hung up and called Sheila at work. “The van has been stolen.” I could barely get the words out. “Oh no,” she said. “Oh, Bird, I’m so sorry. Have you called the police?” I hung up and called 911. The questioning was interminable as I described the vehicle, my address, the location of the car when it was stolen, etc. “Do you want us to send an officer over to your house?” Of course, I said. I then paced around the living room, waiting, waiting for the officer to show up. The mantra had changed to “WhatamIgonna’do? WhatamIgonna’do? WhatamIgonna’do?” I was still standing at the kitchen counter with my head in my hands when Sheila walked in the door. “Let me call Carol across the street and see if she remembers when she last saw the van.” Sheila dialed Carol’s number. She was in mid-conversation when she finally remembered what had happened to my van.

The day before, Sheila and I had decided to go to Santa Fe for the day. She had met me at the McDonald’s parking lot and we had taken her car into town. We got back so late that evening, we didn’t even think to stop at McDonald’s to pick up the van, and NEITHER of us remembered we’d left it there!

Abashed and relieved, we drove over to McDonald’s, and there was the van where I’d parked it the day before. For the rest of the day, I was a quivering wreck, emotionally spent – yet relieved that my van, packed to the gills with flea market merchandise, had not been hijacked by illegals to use as transport for their Mexican relatives…

Of Polar Bears and Lost Horizons

It was Christmas 2007 in Tucson. Stephen had left me for Rose the Piano Player, and the divorce was pending. I went to a friend’s house for Christmas Day festivities. Playing on the flat screen TV in the living room was the DVD of “Planet Earth,” the amazing nature documentary shot around the world with high-definition cameras. The episode was about Antarctica, and featured a polar bear who’d run out of ice and food and had taken to open water, swimming day in and day out for several days in search of something to eat, a place to land. A camera filmed the bear from above, swimming, swimming, swimming through the deep blue ocean, until he finally arrived at an island teeming with sea lions. Exhausted and starving, the bear tried to chase the sea lions, but was too weak to catch them. He finally lay down and died.

Something about that poor bear’s hopeless, desolate journey made me come undone. It was all I could do to stay composed in that crowded room, so full of mirth and propinquity. I had been on a miserable odyssey with an abusive husband, isolated for four years with no rescue or sanctuary from his obscene tirades. Not even my church was a safe place. Away from my tribe, the city I loved (Colorado Springs), and the life that once anchored me, I WAS that polar bear.

I have processed most of what happened during my marriage and divorce from Stephen. I am grateful that I was released from that oppressive relationship. I'm thankful that I've been gifted with the resources to take time off, heal my spirit and reclaim my power, just BE. I know I've been lucky that way. It's a rare thing to be able to jettison cublicle and corporate life to pursue your dreams and fancies. But lately I’m disoriented, homesick for a harbor that no longer exists. I’ve been essentially on the move for the better part of six years, first with Stephen, from Colorado Springs to Florida, back to Colorado, then to Tucson. Then, after the divorce, back to Colorado, then Mexico, then Los Alamos, and now, again, back to Mexico. Lately, I feel like that polar bear, moving from ice flow to crumbling ice flow, searching for belonging, for purpose, for family, for that nebulous place called “home.” I pray to God that I will make landfall soon. I’m tired of being at sea. I just trust that my internal and external resources will hold out until the Creator drags His/Her brush across the horizon line -- to reveal the first inkling of a New World, and perhaps more importantly, the key to being at peace no matter where the road takes you.

1 comment:

  1. "like an adolescent boy grabbing his girlfriend’s boobs". I laughed out loud. How funny!

    The polar bear analogy. Whoa. That's heavy, I wish you could align your vision of yourself with something more hopeful!!! My traveling friend is coming back soon and she is in a similar rootless place. All I can do is be here for her and listen.
    If "home is where the heart is", You have to find a home in your own heart . We are home when we are at peace with ourselves, not because of where we are physically. Let me be so bold to state what seems obvious to me and that is--we take ourselves everywhere we go. So, it does not really matter where you are, you will make friends, find work, love and be loved.... I wish you peace.