For the first time in a long time, I found myself counting down the days until the weekend was over, hoping that by the time Monday came around, everything would be okay.
It all started with me feeling good, even slightly accomplished. I have anxiety on various levels regarding different things and one of them is talking on the phone. I’m not 100% sure why this is an anxiety-trigger for me, but it is. So one afternoon, after making lunch, I managed to suppress it long enough to call and schedule not only an apartment showing, but also to get recall repairs done with my car (which I had been putting off for a little over a month). I felt accomplished. I felt like I was adulting and doing it well. I have a decent amount saved up in my bank account and I recently applied for a job that, if I get it, would solve a lot of financial problems. Things were looking good.
Cue apartment showing. The apartment itself was cute, albeit small and, since we were being showed a place where a tenant currently lived, trashed. That was a bit disappointing, but I still liked the apartment and thought I could make things work with it. So I started making tentative plans of possibly moving into one around the end of the summer and wrapping my mind around the paycheck-to-paycheck living that would induce. Even looking at the cheapest apartment I could find, bringing in paying for loans and not getting cable/internet, I was looking at $50 extra a month after bills. So not exactly exciting, but with my savings, it was doable.
Fast-forward to Friday, when I took my car to the shop. I’ve always had old cars, so I have massive anxiety when taking them up to the car shop, because no matter what I take it in for, nth number of problems arise and I always owe over a grand in repairs. Luckily, my friend surprised me and we got to go eat lunch and run some errands during the repairs, so I didn’t sit wallowing in anguish waiting for my wallet to drain. We get back and the recall repair went smoothly and they changed my oil. Damage: $33 dollars. The relief is beyond anything I’ve felt in a long time. I skipped out to Smaug–that’s what I named her, with her maroon color and my love for dragons–started her up and left the lot. As I turned out of the lot, I touched the brakes as a car is about to drive past.
She didn’t stop.
I slammed my foot down and the other car swerved as I barely managed to get the car to stop. My entire body shook. Why weren’t my brakes suddenly working? I managed to get her turned around and back to the shop. Of course, this situation only grows worse because my natural response to most emotions is to cry (not to mention my period, at that point, was only days away from beginning, so the waterworks were in high supply and overeager). So I walked back in, found the gent that was helping me, my eyelids brimmed with tears, and tell him my breaks weren’t working. He discovered that not only was I out of break fluid, but there was also a leak. Plus, oil leaks. And advised me to drive really careful on the way home, because it isn’t particularly safe until I get that looked at. I had told him previously I had a friend who was a mechanic that was going to fix my taglight (as, a week or so earlier, I got pulled over for the second time in my life for having my taglight go out) so he suggested that I had that friend take a look at my breaks. And then he left.
Sidenote: Only after I got home did I think that perhaps the car dealership that did the repairs was to blame for the faulty breaks. I just wrote it off as miraculous timing on my part. I also didn’t even think about asking them to look at my car, as the man made it seem like that wasn’t an option and I just wanted to get out of there before I started truly crying. Not the best situation all-around, in hindsight.
Shaking uncontrollably and braking each time by touching the pedal to the floor and stopping at least 100 feet behind the car in front of me at each stoplight–pissing off all the drivers around–I made it home. Midway through, the dam broke and I’m bawling, yet only out of one eye, I noticed at a stoplight. Still shaking, the skin around my eyes and on my cheeks tight, I run into the bathroom to avoid my brother, lest he see me as a hot mess. I get in the bath and finish out my stress-and-anxiety-induced-crying-session, with one conclusion: I have to bite the bullet and get a new car. I’ve been putting it off as long as I could, fixing Smaug every time she broke down. It was proving too dangerous and too costly to continue doing so. Yet the problem remained:
I don’t have any money. Not enough to afford a new car or a higher car payment, that’s for dang sure. Yet I have to commute to work. And just a few days prior, I was struggling to figure out how to come up with paying for the cheapest apartment I could find in the town where I work; and that was before I had to consider a higher car payment. Plus, my first payment for my student loan comes out next week. Oh, and this all happened on Friday and I was supposed to start back up at work on Sunday. Yet I needed a new car.
Yeah, let’s say I was more than a little stressed out, as flashbacks to the stresses that inspired my Catch-22: My Life Edition post came rearing their ugly heads again. Friday night was spent with a lot of tears in front of my parents as they were both forced to rearrange their Saturdays so they could go with me to the dealership–because even if I didn’t want their expertise, which I definitely did, I don’t make enough to get a new car without a co-signer. I didn’t sleep, riddled with the anxiety of trying to buy a reliable car without money and contemplating selling my organs, plus trying to avoid being conned and ripped off, as is common with places like car dealerships.
We’ll fast-forward through Saturday, as trust me, it doesn’t make for a riveting story. The only highlight of the day was when I sat outside and read Jeff Salyards’ Chains of the Heretic for almost two hours before we left for the dealership–the only ounce of peace I managed all weekend, despite the book not being peaceful at the slightest. Damn Deserters. Left home at four, got home at 11:30pm, but came home with a used 2015 model that had working a/c, a radio that didn’t stop working when you hit bumps in the road, a plug-in for an IPod, plus so many other features so foreign to me, previously never owning a car that was less than 10+ years older than the current year.
Oh, and a car payment double what I had previously.
It’s Monday. I’m back at work. I’m still getting used to having a car that actually functions and trying to get used to driving it (as, of course, I get anxiety driving, as well, regardless of what car I drive). I have a trip to the DMV to look forward to. I didn’t submit the application to the apartments as I need to reevaluate my financial situation. Again. I’m so thankful that weekend is over. I’m thankful for my supportive parents who helped out and dealt with my tears, my frustrations and my anxiety, while giving me support and rides and advice. And I’m stressed out. Like I always have been, money drives me mental and makes me want to curl into a ball and never unfurl. My anxiety has been worse of late and I feel myself unfolding, dangerously, and losing hope that I’ll ever make it out in the “real world,” if I ever figure out what “making it” means.
Yet life is good.
Why? Because for the first time ever, I have a safe, reliable car I can depend on (and a stereo finally befitting of my hardcore jams). I’m reading a good book that kept me up past my bedtime last night and I didn’t even regret it this morning when my alarm went off at eight. I just started writing a new book about a character I have already fallen in love with, yet I’m only five pages in. My coworkers greeted my return today with warmth. My dog and I have walked for two weeks straight now and I get to take him on a walk when I get home tonight. There are yummy leftovers in the fridge and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies came out on DVD, finally.
Yes, I’m stressed out. Yes, I’m struggling. But a part of me believes that every 20-something, every young professional, goes through struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck at the beginning; almost like a rite-of-passage type of deal. So I’m going through that rite now (ha, look at that witticism. Look at it!). And a lot of it sucks. But life doesn’t suck. Not having a lot of money and always keeping a tight wallet is a bummer, but it isn’t the end of the world. Life is still great, regardless of those factors. And one day, I’ll make it. Until then, I’ll keep pushing, struggling, stressing and finding the things that make life worthwhile and chokeholding them to remind me that regardless of it all, there are still good things and good people in the world. I desperately hope you had a better weekend!
PS: In case you were wondering, I did already name my new car. She’s named the nickname I wish I was cool enough to give myself, because I think it is just awesome. Her name is Dovahkiin.