For six years I was the proud owner of a mature Toyota Rav4. And one night, somewhere inside the 30 minutes I spent in the neighborhood Lucky’s grocery store, she died.
Babe, as I affectionately named my ride, literally carried me through my adventure with a willing heart and unrivaled passion for travel. It was love at first sight when we met in Arizona. Together, we explored the hills and valleys of the Sonoran desert and cruised through the majestic splendor of the Grand Canyons, northern Mexico, Sedona and so many points in between. She was a stalwart companion on the trek to Chicago where she braved the relentless assault of windy city winters better than I ever hoped to. And when the time came to resign our Midwestern post for a Boulder life experience, she revved up and willingly agreed.
Without much more than a few hiccups along the way, she never complained and I was grateful. But after a routine trip to the grocery store, I returned to find her all but dead on her feet. She blinked, gasped and sputtered when I turned the key, and as the temperature plummeted outside, the only thing I could think about was the inconvenience to me. I moaned a bit, and then made calls for a tow truck and a rental car. Then I worried about how I’d cover the unknown expense of repair and all of the other items I had yet to pay for.
Within minutes, I had arranged for the roadside guys (those gravelly-voiced, greasy-nailed angels who seem to appear from nowhere at a moment’s notice) to meet me in front of the Lucky’s market and haul Babe off to a better place—a garage two miles across town. I also called my boss to let him know not to expect me in the morning. But before I could finish my story, he insisted I wasn’t going to walk home in the dark as I said I would, not if he had anything to do with it. ‘Not on my watch’ were his exact words. I didn’t protest and neither did the feet I’d stuffed into a pair of fleece-lined platform clogs.
When things fall apart, whether it’s our relationships, our plans, our bodies, our cars and any other inconveniently broken down thing, I think we’re presented with opportunities to consciously choose our next move and to draw from resources we might not have been aware of previously. In my case, I had to give myself permission to be helped, honey! I was surprised and relieved to know people genuinely wanted to give me a hand without asking anything in return. And for the die-hard independent in me, it was a big deal.
Another aspect of being fiercely independent means I would have—and momentarily did—default into thinking I was alone, that I’d have to figure everything out by myself in the dark and cold. I’m glad I didn’t have to. I wound up sharing some laughs and car tips with the tow angel and warmed up in a nearby tapas bar he mistakenly thought was a gentleman’s club before realizing the mistake. Wasted a good $20 in there before I knew all there was was food, he said. As I waited for my ride, I warmed to the idea that good people had my back. I can get used to this.
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