I’ve been quiet again… It’s been quite a week. In my last post, I wrote about the curious surrender involved in being towed away. Not all my writing is based on real experience, but that was. That day, my trusty old VW ran out of steam just as I was turning the corner from work at the end of a long day. It had not been cleaned in weeks and was filthy. The boot was full – and I mean full – of crap I’d been clearing out of the house ready for decorating and I was hurried and harried, as I am at the end of every day, racing to collect my son. I was just feet away from the tramline when I realised I probably shouldn’t carry on driving a car that was juddering so violently and pulled over. Even though it was right at the lights. And on a corner. And in the middle of rush hour traffic…
I waited two hours for the recovery van to arrive. Some drivers shook their fists and beeped as they passed me. ‘Oh, so that was you,’ one colleague said the next day. I’d been noticed, sitting there in my clapped-out dirty car, getting in everyone’s way. When the recovery lad came – lovely lad, Josh, and about 12 years old, I reckoned – he had to empty every bit of rubbish out of the boot to get whatever he needed to tow me. Some of it he took home with him: ‘I can’t believe you’re throwing this away!’ We had a laugh, but I hoped there were no colleagues leaving work late to see me, standing at the side of the road with all my old bits and bobs out on the pavement.
As Josh prepped me for the tow, he did actually say, ‘pretend you’ve got no feet, love,’ as I wrote in my poem later. He didn’t say ‘surrender yourself to me.’ That would have been weird. I made that bit up, because that’s what it felt like as he dragged me, in my car, up the Mancunian Way at what felt like unnecessary speed. I just had to steer. It really wasn’t that easy, to surrender control like that. Josh said later that he’d been a bit worried at certain points…
I had to take the next day off work so they could come, in a huge tow truck this time, to take me to the garage. The car had to be pushed up the road to the truck and neighbours I’ve never met came out to help. Jimmy at the garage – I’ve known Jimmy for ten years now and I love him – said I could pay to get it fixed up until the next thing went, or that he could just get it going for me so I could get rid of it.
A week on and I’m now driving to work and back each day in my new (oldish…) Mini Convertible. I’m driving everywhere at the moment, to be honest, mostly with the top down, even if it’s a bit chilly out. I’m not someone who’s particularly interested in cars or statusy stuff, but I’ve dreamed of having one of these cars for years. To the point that, once, my little boy fashioned one for me out of an egg box and gave it to me as a present on Mother’s Day. Suddenly, I realised – with a little money in the bank from the remortgage and a decision to be made on the VW – I could have one if I wanted it. I could just go and get one. So I did.
It’s felt exactly as I hoped it would feel. Amazing. And so refreshing not to have to put up with something improvised and shitty on account of my situation. It feels like outrageous luxury. Audacious. Self-indulgent. I’ve been aware of battling a lot of feelings about why, perhaps, I shouldn’t. A lot of feelings. And I realise the extent to which I’ve become accustomed to struggling. How it got comfortable and almost safe.
Ironically, I think, the feeling of euphoric independence I get as a single woman driving around in my car was facilitated by a small army of kindly men. Gary, who sold me the Mini, had a nice way about him. He was reassuring and kind. As I tried to think of all the questions you’re supposed to ask when you’re buying a car, he kept saying to me, ‘it’s just change, that’s all.’ He said it even when it was an odd response to whatever I’d asked. ‘It’s just change.’ I wondered if maybe he was responding to something deeper than whatever I was saying out loud. Something else he was picking up from me. ‘It’s just change, love.’
It is change and change can be unsettling even when it’s positive. I’m aware of how abject the situation with my old car had to get before I made this particular change. I’m aware of how I had to be dragged – quite literally – at speed, into this new reality. But I know now, too, how it feels to surrender to that. It feels good. It feels like I’ve turned a corner. Like something has shifted. It feels like I’m no longer driving in the dark.
I’m going to go quiet again for a few days while I have a little holiday – I’ll be back next week.