My first day off since New Year's. I awoke at 6am to make Brendan's lunch this morning.
(He started on a new temporary client contract in Columbus this week...hour and a half commute.)
I promptly went back to bed and wrestled with eerie dreams of being in a parallel universe and separated from my body. (Which had some very strange physical sensations, let me tell you.) Although this is profoundly weird, it's not the first time this has happened. When I'm especially worn out, I dream that I can't wake up because I'm separated from my body. I can also, during these dreams, hear the cacophony of human thoughts floating around in space and time. A murmur of voices talking about everything and nothing...like my brain switched onto the psychic channel and the knob broke off.
Yesterday at work, I announced I was leaving at 2pm to avoid getting overtime. So I went out to start my little diesel car (which is having such a hard time with this bitter cold) and it wouldn't start. Many well-meaning coworkers thought it was the battery and tried to give me a jump-start, but I've come to bond with my car these past 2 months. I felt in my gut that something else was wrong and a jump wouldn't do it. Nevertheless, we hooked up jumper cables and I tried to start it. Again and again and again. And the engine sounded "off" to me. I received advice to push the gas pedal down and then try - BAD advice. I also received advice to spray ether into the intake - EVEN WORSE advice for a diesel, unless you want to destroy your engine. Luckily, I didn't take any of that advice, but I still didn't know what was wrong and I was stuck in a snowstorm an hour from home. I tried to start it once more and wispy smoke started spiraling up to the sky from the engine compartment. What a funny sight I must have been. Dashing through the snow in a wool skirt and heels yelling "SHIT" and bursting into the backdoor of my workplace, grabbing a fire extinguisher and rushing back out. The smoke had disappeared, thankfully, but I burst into tears and gave up. I didn't know what to do. I'd been trying to contact Brendan...I KNEW he would be able to tell me what was wrong and what I should do but I couldn't get a hold of him...he was on that new temporary job, supposed to be impressing people so they sign up for a longer contract.
I went inside and called a very expensive tow truck. (They're all expensive.) Then I worried and cried and called a car rental company to see if I could afford renting a car to drive to work. I thought my car might be dead for a long time. The tow truck finally came an hour later and the driver was silent and gruff, kicking things around, jerking the straps around my tires, as I shivered and tried not to cry. It was like watching a wounded animal be handled carelessly by someone who doesn't love it or know it. I felt bad for myself, but strangely enough, I felt worse for my car.
That poor car. It sat for five or more years in a garage, silent and neglected, before I purchased it in pieces and Brendan put it back together and rebuilt it with his kind hands. He spent many hungry evenings working on that car out in the snowy driveway instead of inside, warm and fed. The car wants to work...I can feel it. But I left the lights on twice and nearly ruined the battery. (There's no warning sound. I'm just supposed to remember.) It runs on diesel and when the weather is this damn cold (and it is damn cold), the oil turns to an unmovable goo which makes it REALLY hard to start the car. There's a block heater to help with this, but that only works if I can plug it in somewhere. Most parking lots I go to for work don't have electrical outlets. There's also glow plugs to help it start but if one or more of them aren't working, I'm screwed.
Which brings me back to yesterday. I towed the car home to the tune of $140 and talked the guy into manuevering it into my driveway for me, head-first so Brendan would be able to push the front of the car into the garage. He turned out to be a pretty nice guy after all, just a quiet one. I called my Dad and bawled to him and I called my Mom and asked her to come over so I could cry on her shoulder.
It went something like this, through my head, all afternoon. If my car is broken in such a bad way that it'll take quite a bit of time for Brendan to fix, I'm screwed. He works late so the only time he'd have to work on it is for a few hours every night out in the unheated garage until he stops feeling his fingers. Not to mention the cost, whatever astronomical amount that will be. In the meantime, I still have to get to work every day. Do I throw away half of my paycheck to rent a car to get to work? Is that the perfect example of futility or what? And If I can't get to work, or if I can only keep half of my money, then I can't pay off of any of the debt I so desperately need to, so that when my job ends in April, we won't have to use Brendan's entire paycheck on paying bills with nothing left for food and gas (as was the case the previous ten months, which drained our savings to nothing). The plan was to use my entire paycheck for the entire four months of my employment to pay off all of those little nagging debts that eat away at his paycheck. If I can't do that, then bankruptcy is my only option to keep from starving. My mother-in-law has made it abundantly clear to me that she disapproves of me ruining her son's credit with a bankruptcy. If my house doesn't sell by March when my tenant moves out, I'm going to have to claim it anyway though. There's absolutely no way I can afford a second house payment. What a laughable thought.
And the underlying thought of all of this: I'm thirty years old. I want to have a family. I will not bring a child into the world when I can't care or provide for him. I will absolutely not be a working mother. I will not let someone else raise my children while I'm working. Not going to happen. I will also not work while I'm pregnant. The whys are another story entirely but those are not negotiable. And so we need to be in a better financial position if I'm ever going to have a baby and I'm already thirty years old.
So I got pretty upset. I guess most people that saw me crying yesterday assumed I was upset because my car broke down. But really, it was the implication. I might never get ahead in life. I might never know the joy of having a family. The struggle might never end.
Brendan got home last night and immediately went out to check out the car. I didn't get to hear about his first day at that new job....I only heard that he didn't get to eat lunch. And before I could feed him, he went outside to try and determine the cause of the breakdown. About half an hour later I heard the car start and saw him give me a thumbs up through the window. I was puzzled. I was fully prepared for bad news. I was expecting to have to quit my job and claim bankruptcy and accept failure and prepare for a childless life. (I know, I really can be a drama queen.) But it was just something with a fuse. A fluke really. I accidentally must have switched on the wipers one of the times I was trying to start the car, which due to an engineering defect, was hitting one of the glowplug fuses under the hood and shorting it out. Hence, the smoke. It was the wrong fuse which made it burn rather than pop and it was so cold that there was no way the car was going to start without glowplugs. So he fixed it in half an hour.
And did I mention he lost his wedding ring on top of everything? As we wearily searched the fridge for something to make for dinner, we realized we had nothing. Because I haven't had a day off in ages, I haven't gone grocery shopping in ages and we had nothing but ground beef, old yogurt, and chipotle peppers. So although we were both beaten and bedraggled, we changed into some clothes suitable to wear in public and went out for dinner. I nearly fell asleep in my cheeseburger. During dinner, Brendan reached into his pocket...the pants he'd worn the day before...and surprisingly pulled out his wedding ring. Didn't lose it after all. And when we got home from dinner, I realized in all the misery, I hadn't checked the mailbox earlier, and when I reached in, I pulled out a check from work...my mileage check.
I felt sheepish as I brushed my teeth. "Sorry Universe", I thought.
The reply, "I've got your back. You should know that by now."