Oh friends, yesterday was a doozy. It’s a long story, but I’ll try to give you the short version:
So, last year I didn’t change my license or license plates, even though I was in a new city. Because it was unclear if I’d be here for more than a year, and because I didn’t have to deal with parking permits in my old place (I had an off-street parking spot), I got away with it. I’m not totally sure it was legal, but I got away with it.
This year, I can no longer claim that my being in Boston is only a one-year stint. Additionally, I no longer have parking at my new apartment. If you’re not familiar with Boston—or most larger cities—know that if you don’t have off-street parking, life is significantly more difficult because everywhere you go is permit parking. In order to get a parking permit, I needed new plates, new license, etc.
In a perfect world, getting the aforementioned list checked off would be a pretty easy thing. But it is not a perfect world and this permit nonsense has created an entire month of stress. At least one day a week (usually more) since I’ve been back, I’ve spent hours upon hours dealing with Social Security offices; multiple days and trips to the RMV; horrible, triggering phone calls with insurance companies (“Hi, I’m your insurance agent, let me take a full 20 minutes to tell you, a person with severe driving anxiety who has had nearly every family member in major auto accidents, about all the horrible things that might happen to you (or someone you hit!), so you know what you’ll be covered for”); and yesterday, on my third trip to the RMV, I discovered that I had yet another form I had to fill out because I have a different last name than my mom. (Meaning, I was basically being punished for having a single mom. Thanks bureaucracy). The new form meant driving around all over the place trying to collect what I needed to complete it. This last day of parking permit madness involved so many things going wrong that it finally pushed me over the edge of my ability to cope with it all.
Doing all of these “errands” (that seems like such an innocuous word for what I’ve been doing) involved spending tons of time and money, and also involved a lot of driving. And if you hadn’t figured it out by now: I loathe driving. Unfortunately, I have no way of getting to my job without a car. Also, the greater Boston area is incredibly difficult to get around in general (whether you’re biking, public transit-ing, driving, or walking), but, in the affordable parts, it also sometimes feels impossible without a car. I am not nearly wealthy enough to live close to a train line (without roommates, which just never came into fruition, despite a couple attempts). I am near a bus stop, but the buses wouldn’t have gotten me to the RMV (nor the resulting running around I had to do in order to fax my mom a paper at a random Fed Ex in Ohio). This is probably the number one reason that I have every intention of moving away from this city as soon as possible. I was spoiled in Chicago and Minneapolis—public transit was amazing and I barely ever drove. I know now that living in a place where I don’t have to drive much (if at all!) is a huge priority for me.
Whew, that’s a lot of complaining, right? Not usually the tone I try to set on the blog. Well, fortunately, the story doesn’t end there. Unsurprisingly, once I got through the sort of peak of terribleness (which would be, undeniably, when I had a full-blown panic attack while driving), I started calming down in a way that granted me a lot of perspective. Here are some lessons I learned:
Lesson #1: Everything is temporary
Oh, this lesson. It’s like the lesson. But it’s so so hard to remember it, until, like, the moment after the peak of suffering has hit. As I write this, I am really sitting with and consciously observing the difference in my body compared to what it experienced not so many hours ago.
The best news and the worst news in life (depending on where you’re at) is that nothing lasts forever.
Lesson #2: You are stronger than you think
I was literally sobbing the words, “I can’t do this, I can’t do this,” over and over again while driving all around, but guess what I was doing while saying that? I was doing it. I can do it, and I did do it. There have been so many times this past, oh about 14 months, that I truly felt like I was not capable of getting through some of the challenges I’ve faced. But here I am, living to tell about it.
Lesson #3: It’s okay to be vulnerable
I cried all over the place yesterday. As an Aquarius, I have all the feelings, but I also have all the walls, alongside a commitment to a semblance of strength and stoicism. So I knew it was a really bad day when I started crying in public. But guess how people responded? With all the kindness.
When the day was finally over, I felt moved to post a status update on Facebook about how upset I was feeling. This is a very rare occurrence for me. A variety of factors—(including being trained as an academic to be extra-mindful of what we put online; fear of judgement from others; and, obvs, a resistance to vulnerability)—have led me to not post much personal stuff on Facebook. And if it is personal, I try to keep it about good stuff, lest I be accused of trying to garner undue sympathy. But despite all those reasons, I decided to admit, “I had a really hard day, so good vibes would be appreciated.”
I was amazed at the response. Not so much amazed that the awesome people I have in my life would react warmly, but more so at how powerful it was to receive that kindness. I let myself be open to love in the form of texts, calls, and fb posts, and I literally felt myself healing with each message.
Lesson #4: Gratitude
There is always a moment when you are in the midst of the muckiest mud pit that you realize it could actually be a whole lot muckier. And that realization leads to the surprising sensation of gratitude (smack dab in the middle of what feels like the worst day of your life). The fact that I was having a meltdown about the perils of car ownership meant that I had a shit-ton going for me already. I own a car; the fact that I hate it doesn’t negate the fact that I’m lucky to have it. The reason I need a car is for a job that I fucking love. The reason I’m living in a city I don’t like is for that same job that I love. COOL.
And you know what else I’m grateful for? The delicious dinners I’ve enjoyed the past week. Here are a few:
Thanks for listening to my rant. I’m obviously grateful for all of you, too. (And for this space allowing me more practice being vulnerable). <3
That’s all for now! See you Friday!