Something I failed to mention in my past post, Quitting, was probably one of the things we often struggle with the most when making a change. Why was I so afraid to tell my boss I was leaving the company? I know I was scared to see my investment and all those years of building relationships disappear, but also knew I was taking those skills with me. So what was really the terrifying part? Sometimes, the people we work for, work with, or our family lead us to believe that we owe it to them to stick around. Or maybe we, ourselves, create that.
An important realization has grown in me over the years. Your life is your life. And while we can care for one another and be there for each other - each person has their own life to live. We can't base all our life decisions on our own guilt of leave a particular person or situation. I wasn’t so special that everyone else would fail without me. I’m not special at all- at least no more than anyone else. My guilt was masquerading as concern for the people that I cared for and the business I was leaving. In fact, it was my own desire to feel self value and importance. If we stay in situations or with people we feel won’t survive with out us we end up doing a couple of things. Number 1 we are sending the message to that person that we don’t think they are capable without us. And number 2 we grow resentment towards that person or situation. Staying in a situation out of guilt (our own desire to feel valued), overtime creates anger towards others for preventing us from living out our own dreams. In fact, the sole responsibility falls on you. It becomes easy to play the blame game when you can’t figure out the reason you feel the way you do. This was an important life lesson for me in this journey (and one I didn’t learn until well- as I write this years later).
So, I quit the job, sold my things, and said my goodbyes. It was now time to pack up my vehicle and plan my journey across the US! Now remember, I planned to move to Arizona and live with my mom for a couple months so that when Club Med called I would be ready to leave. I figured I had never really taken a proper vacation so why not take advantage of the opportunity. I had relatives in Denver so I would drive there and stay with them, and then take a tour through the Rocky Mountains on my way South to the desert. So I did a “test pack” to see whether or not I could get everything in my car and the top storage unit I had been gifted from my students. Let me tell you, my car was packed to the brim. Just enough room for myself and a little open space on the passenger seat. Still, there were a few things that couldn’t fit. So they were purged by default.
A week before my scheduled departure disaster struck. I can’t recall where exactly it happened other than it DID happen. Maybe it was a speed bump or perhaps one of the soul crushing, car eating pot holes on the Illinois road system, but I hit one. What I heard next was my high hopes for my journey crashing though the rusted out wheel cover of my Ford Escape. The wheel shock had punctured completely through. The sound as I drove was horrible. Every little bump a window shaking tremor causing my knuckles to curl in fear around the steering wheel. Would the car make it?
I was still making payments on this big rolling turd and didn’t have enough money to pay it off and try to find something else. There was absolutely no time or funds for any of that. And as mentioned before- Uhauls we’re out of the question. I took it to the mechanic. We are within a day of departure.
“Welp, kid, it doesn’t look good for you. You still drivin‘ on it?”
“You plannin‘ on goin somewhere with it?”
”Kind of.” “Sir, do you think it will make it to Arizona?”
”Leave it here with me overnight and I’ll see if my guy can’t do something with it.”
”Sir, I’m suppose to leave tomorrow.”
“Well, we’ll see about that.”
When I get home I scramble to pull myself together and come up with a plan. WHY was this happening!? Is this a sign I’m making a huge mistake!? NO! It’s just a problem that needs a solution! This is just life testing me! Seeing if I really, truly, want all this!? Do I have an ounce of resilience in me to take this on? Change of plans. No way can I take a road trip through the mountains. I’ll get stranded and eatin’ by a bear or a hillbilly for sure. What to do, what to dooo.....
I phone a friend in Dallas. He suggests driving straight down to Dallas. Stay with him and then drive across the flatness of the country known as Texas towards Arizona. A much easier terrain for a big rolling turd to make it across. Okay...tomorrow hopefully I make a 14 hour drive to Dallas. The next morning I go to the mechanic.
“Well, there was nothing I could for it. Can’t weld it because the wheel cover is completely rusted. You would need to replace the whole thing.”
(that cost more than the value of the turd)
I said, “look, I’ve got to get to Arizona with it. Level with me. Will it make it?” “You got other options?”
(deep inhale and pause) “If it was me...I‘d chance it. If you were my daughter I wouldn’t let ya.” Images of me breaking down on the road and getting stranded with no plan and tow truck bills galore flooded my mind. It would be a HUGE risk. But I was getting good at taking those. “Thank you sir. I’ll call you when I make it to Arizona.“
I hopped in the big rolling turd and took it back to the house to pack it up. Time was ticking away and creeping late into the morning. Not the early start I had hoped for. With my car packed I made one last stop to give a tearful goodbye to my best friend and house mate and promised I would check in often from the road.
Word about my situation had gotten around to all my family and friends and many silent prayers were sent into the universe for my safe travel. I felt a warmth in my chest as I merged onto the highway. I’m leaving. It’s happening. My worries dissipated with the excitement of embarking on a journey to the unknown and a feeling of knowing everything was going to be alright.
to be continued...