Do you have superpowers? We all do, sometimes they are just hidden from us until needed. Lately, I feel like my cape is at the dry cleaners. I’ve been accused of being a Pollyanna, a rose colored glasses kind of gal often in my life. The eternal optimist.
Today was supposed to be a celebration of life to offset the anniversary of a death. A new focus, if you will. But, like so many things in my life right now, that got derailed by unforeseen circumstances.
Yesterday I sat under a huge cottonwood tree and worked the second part of my work day. An electric blue damsel fly landed on my arm for a visit. Wasps and midges filled the air. It’s hot here, I won’t lie. But the breeze from the lake kept it bearable. The frustrations and confusion and scramble of the day faded away a bit. I found a campsite in the state park and settled in somewhat for a one night stay. I watched the mountains turn pink in the lowering sun’s rays and followed the flight of scores of birds as they worked the skies for their evening meal. I wanted this to be the panacea that nature usually is, but so many thoughts kept pushing in. I finally settled my mind with breathing, and just did nothing. Despite finding a book left behind from another camper, the frustration, physical tiredness of fast unexpected packing in the heat, and the uncertainty of what to do next took over and my eyes just wanted to shut. So I readied the van for a one night rest of sorts and crawled into bed. As a result, I was up early in the dark, fumbling around trying to find my glasses, get oriented in the weird one night sleep arrangement, get dressed and find coffee. I watched the mist burn off the mountains and enjoyed the echoes of bird voices as they, too, rose to face another day. The mountains turned from grey hulking shapes into lavender sentinels hovering over a verdant tree line on a background of gradient pinks and golds. The coffee tasted good in the chilled air, belying the hot day to come. It was a few moments of beauty in advance of more searching and figuring out what to do for the next few days.
The oil pressure gauge is unreliable and the leak continues unabated. The initial discovery came on the descent from the 8000 foot peak on the way into town, scaring the pudding out of me. I was probably being fussed at repeatedly by the line of cars stuck behind me as I nursed Ruby gingerly down to the closest gas station, about twenty five miles of mental examination of what the heck could be wrong now! Once settled in a safe place, I checked the dipstick and found no oil registering. I’d just had the oil changed not too long ago so it should have been fine. I got under and checked the oil pan, thinking maybe my flat tire adventure had led to unknown damage. From appearances, the plug might have been missing. So after replacing what I thought was an empty oil system, I hobbled over to Jiffy Lube. That was festive, but I did get to go under a car on a lift for the first time ever. It was misdiagnosed until I just plainly asked ‘Where did the oil GO?’ At second inspection (where the mechanic was insistent it was a transmission fluid leak but… Not!), the leak at the oil pressure sensor was found. I just cannot justify putting more money into this van. Hence the flat out search day in and day out for a new rig. I travel now with oil on hand, checking the van every fifty miles I drive. It’s nerve wracking to travel in such an unreliable vehicle. I’m not an anxious person, but I’ve become one, and I don’t like the impact on my personality.
I’ve done an assessment and out here is where I want to be. But at some point I’ll hit the fish or cut bait wall and have to rent a truck to get back home if I can’t find an affordable, reliable vehicle. I’ve lost out on three suitable options in the last ten days. It’s a struggle to look, to work, to maintain my daily life. I have to reach deep down to find joy and positivity, which is new for me again after climbing out of the situation with my grandson. I’ve traded in my optimism superpowers for persistence. The cape is tighter and it often slips off at inopportune times, leaving me vulnerable, tired and uncertain. Add to that other uncertainty hovering around me, and I have had some really hot mess days.
But for today, I will do my best to smile, to be kind to others, to remember too, their struggles. I’m healthy. I’m employed. I have a place to sleep and food to eat.
But be warned – this is not the things you usually see on #vanlife hashtags or videos extolling the liberation of this life. Those too, are true. So too, are the challenges and realities out here. Be prepared. Making decisions alone, far from home and support while under pressure is not the best scenario. It can be gotten through, I believe. Stay tuned to see if that inherent optimism inside of me turns the page…
~SE, hobbling on the road, trying to keep her chin up even when it wobbles.