April 13, 2017
Reminder: These posts are written stream of conscious and are left as they came out. Unedited, with dozens of misspells and grammatical errors, and totally raw experiences. Enjoy.
Somehow I survived and even managed to graduate high school, despite the fact, after the death of the camaro, I had to persuade other people to take me to school every morning. From school, I’d find other friends to give me rides to wherever I needed or wanted to go. It’s how I lived. Most kids depend on their parents to get them where they need to go. I’ve actually heard them demand it. I had to persuade people unrelated to me who couldn’t begin to fathom what it was like to be in my situation for rides anywhere and everywhere. This went on for a couple of years until a friend sold me an old, beat up, Toyota Celica for $200. I have no idea where this thing even came from because I’d never seen this model on the road, ever. It was probably quite the sportscar in its prime. It was tight and tiny with a metallic blue paint job that was rusted and peeling in places. I’m thinking it was circa 70 something or other. It was an eyesore but it ran decent. At the time, I’d gotten sober about six months before after a drinking so much on my 18th birthday I’d gotten alcohol poisoning and threw up so much I’d ripped a hole in the lining of my esophagus. I’d bought the car from someone I met in an AA meeting. I was very much in a pulling-it-together and keeping-nose-clean phase but I was still dating someone who’d been one of my primary party buddies. A talented lead guitarist in a Heavy Metal band, he was very much stil on party mode. Wonderful, funny, smart guy (obviously friends to this day), but our relationship was already getting strained when I started having trouble with my $200 car. Winter was coming in Memphis, Tennessee and all chilled humidity was fogging up my windows which as how I discovered the defroster wasn’t working.
My party animal boyfriend was also a bit of a master mechanic so I told him what was going on. One night he comes over to my house and pulls the dashboard off to remove the defrost equipment. In the process he removes part of the heating system before promising to come back in the next couple of days to fix everything. In the meantime, the windows stopped rolling up about six inches from closed, which wasn’t such a big deal, since my boyfriend had promised to come back in the next day or two. Though the weather was taking a turn for colder, I didn’t think it would bother me that much. Hey, at least I had a car. A week went by and, while I know it sounds silly to keep calling him only my boyfriend and not by name, but we are still friends and I don’t want to embarrass him. Anyway, so a week goes by and “my boyfriend” still hadn’t gotten around to putting everything together not fixing the windows that he’d also promised to get right on. Band practice, parties and football games kept getting in the way.
Another week goes by and it’s gotten even colder. Still, no defrost, no heat and windows stuck down about six inches on either side. One night, I was driving home from work and the temperatures were below freezing when it started to rain. A hard Memphis rain. I was shivering uncontrollably when my windwshield wipers stopped working because the rain had turned to sleet and the sleet was freezing to my windshield as soon as it splatted against it. I didn’t have gloves so I had to reach my bare hands out the open window, reach around to the windshield, dig my fingers under the sheet of ice and pull it off the windshield so I had a chance in hell of seeing while I drove. Memphis winters are brutal. With 100% humidity, the cold is special kind of biting. I was shivering uncontrollably and crying all the way home.
Once I got there, I ran as best I could with my entire body still shaking uncontrollably and immediately filled the antique bathtub with hot water. I had this big beautiful raised bathtub that rested on clawfeet only because it had been there since the house was built in the early 1900s. Nothing else in the house had been changed in all that time either, which was both good and bad. It was a cool looking house but I got reduced rent because I was fixing some of the many things wrong with it. Anyway, so once I was able to ease myself into the tub (I don’t know if you’ve ever been that cold and then tried to get in a hot bath only to find even moderately warm water too hot to endure at first? If not, that’s what happens. You get so cold your skin can’t bear to be cold, but even more than that, it can’t bear to touch anything warm.) Again, anyway, so once I could finally lower myself into the bathtub I stayed there for a very, very long time. I was exhausted from the ordeal, furious at…my boyfriend, but maybe even angrier at myself for my pitiful helplessness. I came to some conclusions and made some decisions during that bath.
The next day, I called…my boyfriend…and broke up with him. I told him I couldn’t believe he loved me and let me go through what I had just gone through. I asked him to bring my car parts back. He came the next day and put everything back together. I didn’t ask him about the windows. Instead, I asked another good friend who was also a mechanical wizard, if he could just tell me how to fix the windows. He offered to come take a look at it for me. I told him, I’d be grateful for that, but I wanted to do all the work myself. Again, I asked him if he could just tell me how to do it. He agreed.
What had happened was that a rubber stopper, I can’t remember what the thing is called right now, was all worn out and was slipping off the glass, so the glass was no longer in the track. It was just a coincidence that both failed at the same time. Turned out it was a delightfully easy fix. All I had to do was find replacement stoppers, remove the door panel, lift the window enough that I could pull the old one off, then push the new one on and guide the whole shebang back into its track. Walla. It worked. I’d fixed the windows myself. I bought a manual for the celica with instructions on how to fix anything imaginable on that car. My mechanical wizard friend gave me an old set of tools he was about to get rid of. Next, I replaced the failing windshield wipers. When that proved to be insufficient, I replaced the windshield wiper motor. When the brakes went out, I learned how to change the brakes. I was doing it! I wasn’t sitting around waiting at someone’s mercy. I wasn’t begging for help from someone I already owed a zillion favors. And I wasn’t taking help from someone who thought I owed them a date for their help. I was learning to do it myself.
You see, the other decision I came to that awful night as I lay trying to warm myself back up in that bathtub is that I’d be damned before I ever sat around waiting for a man’s help for anything, ever again!