Tuesday, 27 September 2016

My First Day - First Things First

A.K.A. Day One.

A.K.A. Ugh.

So, I drove myself to Burning Man.  And it was awful.

No.  Really.  (Here's what I said about it... while in the middle of it... "Yesterday was horrendous.  I don't want to exaggerate, but nor to I want to under-ggerate.  (Not a word, I know) but it was awful.  I was miserable.  And scared out of my mind.  And that's just the tip of it.")  It was horrible.

The month leading up to me was completely stressful and not at all fun, and the week (or two) leading up to it was even worse.  I hated it and wanted it to just be done.  All of it.  It was whatever synonym for awful you want to use.  Really bad.  And then, I'm afraid, it got worse.

So here we are at my attempt at recounting the trip down.  Pretty much a month to the day after it happened.  Which hopefully means I have some distance from it and won't have to relive it quite as intensely.

While I had booked the first ferry for Friday morning, that meant getting up and out of the house before five a.m. and after the terrible evening Jason and I had just had and the hours of final organizing and packing I'd done after he left, I didn't think it was wise to aim for that one... but still, I was up early, with very little sleep and a body that did not want to participate.

Jason had said if I wasn't awake by whatever time, he was calling.  But I was awake, and not wanting to be.  My body doesn't do lack of sleep, or early mornings and it was rebelling the main way it knows how... stomach stuff.  I felt awful.

Jason said he was coming over.  I asked him not to... somehow I just wanted to avoid anything.  But he headed over.  I can't quite remember the details, but my stress level was beyond.  I brought down the things I needed to pack and Jason got mad.  Something about how I should have brought them down last night and I just couldn't handle it so I yelled back.  All while trying not to wake up the neighbours.  Brought down more bags (my travel bag, camera bag, purse, etc.) and he had loaded things.  My bike.  My bedding.  I was furious.  How was I supposed to un-pack and re-pack the van every night when he had packed it!  How was I supposed to know where anything was, nevermind put it back together the next morning when I had to leave again?  Why had he done this?  I scream-yelled like I never have before.  A giant "FUCK!" that I don't think has ever come out of me before but I was so so angry and done and unimpressed with everything and this whole entire cluster-f*ck of a stupid situation.  I didn't even know how he got my bike inside.  Or how he'd secured it.  He did it and he didn't even show me and this was pretty much my last straw.  I continued to express my extreme upset at this whole situation while I un-did the bungees around my bike to see how he'd set them up.  Which then had him yelling because I'd un-done and somehow ruined them.  You guys, it was the worst.  Just the worst.  I wanted nothing to do with him ever ever again.  Ever.

And Jason and I have these moments.  They may not be the loveliest, but he is the only person I have in my life that I can tell exactly how I feel (without filters) and even feel or say that I never want to speak to him again and know that once I (we) calm down, we'll hug and support each other.  I still hate the bad times, so very much.  But they are what they are.  (And these were awful.)

I don't even know how or why it happened but all of a sudden there were no more bags in my apartment to bring down.  Everything was in the van.  I triple checked my "last minute" list (passport, ticket, etc.) and everything was in.  Crap.

I had no more excuses.  None at all.  Everything was packed.  The van was prepped and ready to go.  Thousands of dollars had been put into making her safe.  It was all done.  My apartment was ready.  Jason was going to water my plants and check my mail.  I had committed to being on playa and working certain shifts.  I... had to go.  Now.

Jason kept smiling.  I kept crying.  Jason kept taking photos.  I kept trying to not cry when he did.  

I think it was probably just around eight.  Probably a little earlier to be honest.  It had been a hellish couple of hours between my body and the awfulness with Jason and I and both of us being stressed beyond belief and me feeling like I had to do this thing I really really didn't want to do.  I wasn't even sure I could get to the ferry.  Jason offered to drive in front of me.  I tried to start the van.  I was reminded she doesn't like to start.  Or doesn't start easily.  "Doesn't like the mornings, just like her Mom"  I joked.  Because ha.  You have to try to laugh or it'll all just kill you even worse.

Seeing as this was my first time driving her alone in the day (the night before being my first time ever driving her by myself at all) I was grateful it was early and there wasn't a lot of traffic.  I tried to get used to things.  I tried not to hold my breath that I wasn't going to hit something or she wasn't going to... stall or break or die or something.  I mean, I *know* my car.  I know when she sounds or feels a little weird.  I know how much happier she is (and feels) after an oil change.  I didn't know this van at all.  Other than I had driven her for a few the week before and scared the living sh*t out of Jason.  Not reassuring.  I had no sense of her size or width and I had no rear view mirror, and to be honest, I wasn't looking at anything other than the road.

Her turn signals don't work.  I mean, they do, for the observer, but you have to hold the right one down and you have to turn the left one off yourself.  And there is no working horn.... or air.  Or radio.  Or knob on the window to make it easy to roll the window up or down.  And no rear view mirror.  Just these giant mirrors on the side that I wasn't even looking at because I was trying so damn hard not to slice into the side of a parked car or something.  Oh and well maybe it would be kind of ok... I got into the ferry terminal ok.... but looked like I wasn't terribly likely to make the ten.  Which meant sitting in the van until whatever the next ferry was.. the one?

Jason wanted to take more shots, but wasn't allowed in, so I waved from the van and went to the gate and gave him a hug.  He was emotional.  I was scared and emotional but trying to be strong.  Felt sort of strong and determined and, well, I was doing it, so.. here goes.... And then he left.

And I sat there.  In my van.  By myself.

I tried to organize the front area.  I'd bought a plug in fan, so I got that going because yes, it was already hot.  I plugged in the thermometer but then decided to ignore it when it told me it was thirty something degrees in the van.  At not quite nine a.m.

I messaged C-Dawg... "in ferry lineup."  Just kind of sat there.  Being there.  It was weird.  I'd usually done this with Connor.  With him driving... and taking responsibility.  And me not having to do anything but sit there and be a good passenger.  Usually with a gravol in my system.  Because my stomach hates early mornings, and Connor and I are always on that first ferry.

Nothing in my system today though. Just trying to organize my driving area, while not looking suspicious to border guards, while wondering if everyone was looking at the single woman in the giant old camper van.  It was weird.

And when Connor is the driver, I sort of let him worry about the border stuff.  It's not on me somehow, in that situation.  But this time it was *just* me.

And I'd heard about a few people who'd been turned back at the border on their way to Burning Man and there was a part of me that maybe secretly hoped I'd be turned back and would have an excuse to not do anymore.  "Oh man, I couldn't do the drive, I got turned back.  Sorry, I couldn't make my shifts/commitments, I got turned away at the border.  Sorry.  Sorry.  Sorry."

I went into the lineup, got through the border questioning (no idea what they asked, but I imagine it was something about the length/reason for the trip or something)  and got through more questioning (I'm always honest about where I'm going and why and when I mentioned I was volunteering this time... when they asked where I was staying, they asked if I was being compensated in any way.  I wanted to laugh, but just said no.  I didn't say that I was actually paying for the privilege of volunteering and and working and staying with said camp... but anyway... it was different.... doing it myself.)

Then the ferry started to load.  And line after line went in.  And then I went forward... and the loading guy said "we'll get you on Ma'am" and... I was happy.  I'm ON THIS FERRY!!!! I don't have to wait hours!  I'm on this... I... oh... I have to park on this ferry.  Deep breaths.... deep... breaths....

And there was room!  I didn't feel like I would hit anything!  It was SO MUCH EASIER THAN I'D IMAGINED!!!!  Go figure.

And then they asked me to put on my e-brake.

I nodded... but don't have a functioning e-brake.

This freaked me out.

Jason had had me buy... uh... triangle thingies for under the tire but I didn't know where they were (see why I didn't want him packing!?) and I didn't feel I had the time to go digging and probably couldn't have anyway (damn bike) and so I just... locked my doors and hoped maybe they would put block things under my tires.  Crap.

I was so scared during the ferry trip.  It was a pretty wobbly ride and I kept imagining my van sliding into the van next to it and causing damage.  But I knew I couldn't go down and look so I just tried to ignore what might be happening.  I kept texting Jason... "it's really bumpy... will she move?  will it be ok?"  He was... not all that reassuring.  "Tires should help her grip."  .... SHOULD?  SHOULD?  I HAVE NO E-BRAKE WHAT IS HAPPENING!!!!???

And then there was the nausea.  For which I didn't want to take a gravol (plus, they don't kick in fast enough) but this is another reason I've typically taken one on this first travel day... I can get a little motion sick and this ride wasn't a good one for that.

Plus, it's awkward when you're by yourself and have to pee.

I'd brought up my map book and a novel as well as my purse and I didn't want to carry them all into the washroom so I asked someone next to me if they'd mind watching my stuff (and I took my purse with me anyway) and I had that nervous pee thing where I'd go and then get back to my seat and have to go again and didn't want to bother the person again so I just kind of tried to hurry which meant I had to pee again!!! when I got back because I hurried and so I just told my body that no... we just peed... there was nothing left, you're fine.

And then I was on the other side.  America!  Me!  And my van!  We were off the ferry!  I was happy!!!!  I DID IT!!


Blogger Jason Langlois said...

Not the best start to the trip at all.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:06:00 am  
Blogger Victoria said...

No. Not at all.


Tuesday, September 27, 2016 4:54:00 pm  
Blogger Jason Langlois said...

Some part of me is impressed and proud that despite all this, you made it across to America and kept going. While recognizing how awful and terrible this was, I just want to say that I admire your continuing.

But I do dread reading the days to come.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 7:49:00 pm  
Blogger Victoria said...

Thank you. I feel similarly sometimes. Although I would rather not have gone through it all. Oh, and I should warn you... it's taken me days of typing to get through just this first day... it was a doozie... :(

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 8:40:00 pm  

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