Monday, 19 September 2016

Really, Really Awful

I feel like I curved my way through Summer.  There was a lot.  From Spring on, there was a lot and I wasn't particularly comfortable.

But I did what I could.  And I made my way inexorably towards the end of Summer... which for a few years now, has meant Burning Man.

This year was stressful.  Incredibly so.

There were many many times I felt it was best to just not go.  But I just kept moving forwards so that I wasn't cutting myself off from whatever might work out.

And the vehicle situation did not help at all.

I don't remember what I wrote about here, but hindsight tells me it's better for me not to just blindly trust people to carry all my eggs in their basket.  And for me to not be so concerned about bothering someone who is doing me a favour.  (I want to put quotation marks around those words but am resisting that desire.)

Burning Man opened on the 28th this year.  I was going to leave town on the 19th.  Travel slowly but surely along the coast down towards Nevada.  Going very slowly, because I'd never travelled by myself and we (Jason and I) weren't sure how many hours worth I'd be comfortable or enjoy doing a day so we planned for less than three.  (Except on the last day or two when there's not much to do besides keep going... plus we figured by then I'd be excited and wanting to arrive.)

(Repeating what I think I've blogged before) By the start of August, I still hadn't heard from the fellow who was finding me a van to take down.  (The fellow I'd given money to and who had found two vans that turned out be lemons.)  Jason had started working on possible backup plans but I was very much in panic mode.  Which tends to freeze and therefore incapacitate me.  It was bad.

I called buddy, he said he'd get on it.  Time passed.  Somewhere around the 15th, he had a van.  I started to adjust plans to maybe leave a bit later and take a shorter trip down.  I was going to be arriving on the Saturday the 17th since I was volunteering and blah blah blah one day early entry.

The van wasn't released to buddy.  I didn't know what to do.  A week passed.  Nothing.  It passes the day I had intended to leave.  I am panicking for reasons.  Many.

Jason finds an old camper van he wants me (us) to look at.  I'm feeling pretty screwed at this point.  We go look.  It's old.  And big.  I am not comfortable with it at all.  Someone else shows up wanting to buy it.  I feel stuck and pressured (I HAVE NO WAY TO GET THERE!  AND I HAVE TO GO!) so I buy it even though I try to drive it up the road and hate it and don't feel safe and comfortable and can't afford to buy another van.

We buy it.  We get possession of it on Monday.  (I was going to leave three days ago... re-jig travel plans.)  It is awesome in some ways and not in others.  No one who sells it to us (family and their Dad and brother who'd helped maintain it) feel it's in good enough condition to "get that far and back"  Jason feels it can.  I feel whatever slightly less than "horrified" is.  Terrified?  Utterly frightened?  So not ok with this?

Jason goes to town trying to get the van in as good shape as possible.  I keep trying to push the driving so I can still not drive too many hours a day... maybe I can leave Wednesday?  I book ferries.  Jason does what he can to get a mechanic friend to help him look stuff over.  They are happy with what they see.  I am not.  The license plate has no lights... they try to fix it, they can't.  The windows are sealed shut... this is not a good thing.  There is no radio.  The steering wheel is sideways.  The blinkers don't work, nor does the horn.  No one's sure about the electrical system.  I learn things that I don't really quite understand... like... solenoids.  (Did I even spell that right?  Things to do with batteries in cars?)

Jason is in charge here and I'm just wielding the VISA while trying to keep some sort of budget in mind.  New battery, ok, I'm down with things that will make it work better.  Meanwhile his truck has a major brake system meltown and he loses it and I try to help by offering to pay for parts or something and I just want all this to go away and stop and this is nowhere near fun and I don't feel ok.  Oh, and it wasn't a nice feeling to be in his (old) truck when the brakes started doing the bad thing and I just keep thinking of how I should not be taking this old van all the way to Burning Man.  This is so not a good idea.  At all.

Jason insists on things I have no desire to argue with, but what's left of my meager savings is slowly, frighteningly falling away.  New tires.  Ok, fine.  Safety first, yes please.  And the tire guys say the brakes seem fine (although the back one was impossible to get to but yeah) and suggest we get it lubed before the trip down to the desert.

Again, I know little about vehicles so trust Jason (and friends) to their smarts to keep me safe.  I'd planned (re-planned) to leave Thursday morning (after booking Wednesday's ferry and missing it...) but Jason insists he wants to take it in for oil change and lube.  I get so freaked out Thursday morning that I dry heave from nerves.  Never done that before.  This is bad.  I don't see how I can do this, and I don't feel comfortable but I don't see a way out.

Jason tells me I don't have to do it but I feel like I do (signed up for lots of volunteer shifts and work and feel like I now "have" to go... plus I said I would... and sort of set myself that task and damn... this is awful.)  Jason also tells me he's not comfortable or confident with the van and me driving it.

Great.  Now I feel like I'm going to die.  Literally.  Not in that dramatic emotional way but I actually feel like I am doing something dumb and unsafe.

Oh, and Jason also wants to get the solar set up.  With an inverter he found.  (And we had a massive fight because I kept asking questions to clarify how it all worked and he felt this was me not listening and we had to try to stay calm and explain that this was how I learned and ugh... it was the worst week followed by a week so awful we both probably should have stopped.)  And to see if he can get the fan hooked up (more electrical) But he takes it in to get an oil change and the guy there looks underneath and says no.  Your friend can not drive this as is.  Break the key in the lock if you have to, but this is not safe to drive.

Which sends me back to the vomit panic mode because I was just about to drive it.  This is so not ok.

So.  Not.  Ok.  At all... and I am now beyond what I had in savings and I don't want to do this and no one is cheering me on.

Thursday afternoon he takes it in for a brake job.  They fix... things and new brakes and oh my lord does that ever feel better and Jason is finally relieved and happy with the safety of the van and is going to rush things this afternoon to get the electrical set up.  (Even though he's not 100% confident in his electrical work... but he's pretty sure he can do it without dying.  Oh lord, please make it stop.)

I keep thinking about how both of us are stressed beyond what's ok and that at least when I leave he gets to relax.  I leave and have a week of stress getting down, a week of stress dealing with the heat down there and then a week of stress getting back.  I get no relief.  This is not ok.  I just want to give up.

I clearly miss the ferry I book on Thursday.  I rebook for Friday first thing.  Fourth booking I've tried to get to this week.

Jason fights against the dark (in a literal way) and we are both reminded how poorly we work together under stressful situations.  He is awful.  He tells me I'm being wimpy.  I tell him I'm trying not to lose it dealing with his awful mood.  It's bad.  Things aren't going smoothly and it's involving electricity which I do not like.  And he's not completely comfortable with either.  It gets dark.  I am desperate to get a window unsealed because it's awful and nasty hot in the van and I'm in Victoria... f*ck.

I tell him, in all honestly, that I'm done and not going.  His mood and the stress have killed me and I quit.  He yells back that that's fine but he's finishing this work no matter what.  I don't know how to make him stop.  I am frightened of him and the situation and I would leave him and go inside but I don't trust him not to yell at my neighbours so stick around to manage anything that might happen.  It's awful.  Why did I ever sign up for this?  I can not even tell you how awful this was.  After a week of hell.  Really.  The neighbour who is going to Burning Man shows up.  This calms Jason.  I am endlessly grateful.

He shocks himself.  Badly.  I want to cry/die.  I order pizza.  He doesn't eat it.

Somehow he finishes.  Something.  Wires.  I have power.  For... ? A fan I guess?  It's late.  I'm supposed to be on the earliest ferry.  Which means being up at 4am.

We "pack" the van.  Most of it.  Not my bike or essentials.  But the big bins.  And tools.  And whatever.

I am shaking.  Do not want to go.  Jason is done.  And mad.  Tells me fine. Don't go.  Or go.  You're going.  I don't remember.

He leaves.  I look at the clock.  Realize I can't be functional on three hours of sleep and decide I'll try for a later ferry.  I'm not getting there for Saturday now anyway... why try to rush?  I don't even think I can drive this thing onto the ferry without hitting people.  Because I haven't driven it.  I drove it for maybe half an hour.  Freaked Jason out, apparently (we didn't know but the passenger seat wasn't bolted properly so my driving felt really really bad to him) which didn't help because I was terrified of the size... plus, no rear view... plus no sense of space.  Jason yells at me that if I can't tell how big the vehicle is I shouldn't have a license at all.  I want to die.

I can't drive this thing.  I just can't.  And I can't get it to Burning Man.  But I can't not go.  I am stuck.

And so scared and freaked out I'm non functional.  And I can't talk to anyone about it because no one but Jason is really aware of what's going on.  And everyone will just tell me not to go... which I can't.  I have to go.  I just can't.

So I decide to not go for the first ferry, which means I have to move the van to a parking space that will allow me to sleep in.  So for the first time, I go out to drive the van by myself.  I don't put on a bra, because it's one or two in the morning.  I deal with the fact that the van doesn't like to start.  I drive slowly around the block.  The same block I'd driven around with Jason earlier, trying to get him to help me with seeing/feeling how BIG the van is/was.  Which is when he yelled.  Which made it all worse.  So I drive around the block.  I park a time or two and see how close I get to the curb.  Far.  It's not the size I see it as... ok.

I realize I'm driving the van by myself for the first time with no bra.  It fits somehow.  That 70s feel.  I try to take heart from this.

I tell myself I need to sleep.  But I don't.  (Of course I don't.)

I wake up at some point the next morning.  Jason has my car.  He drives over.  Gets mad that I have "so much more" to pack.  Bedding... travel bag... bike.  He loads it all.  Bungees stuff down.  I get mad.  Very mad.  Because he's packed the whole thing and I have no idea how.  I un-bungee things.  He gets mad.  I swear.  Quit.  Give up.  He tells me I'm getting on the next ferry.  Leaving now.  8 something am.  I am not ready.

I cry.  Can't do this.  Don't even want to.  I have had to try to quell the panic by breaking it down into chunks.  So all I'm going to do now is drive to the ferry terminal.  (Jason drives in front of me)  We get there.  I may not make the ferry.  He takes some photos.  I try to smile.  I am crying.  It is awful.  I don't want to do this.  I really really don't.  I will get to the other side and make a decision.  I am going to be late.  I will not make my first shift.  I do not want to drive this van.  It is hot inside the van and it's early morning.  My thermometer I got says it's 42.  Please don't let that be right.  I take the thermometer out of the sun.  It's still thirty something in the van.  It's not even 10 am.  Why am I doing this?  I do not want to do this.  I am by myself.  This isn't fun.  None of this has been fun.

Jason is proud.  Tells me so (via text.. he's not allowed in the terminal)  I feel there's nothing to be proud of.  At all.  I feel awful and am a mess.  I don't want to be here.

I don't do things on my own.  Why am I doing this?

Jason gives me some nickname from some driving movie he loves.  I tell him I'm not a driver.  I'm really not.  He's emotional.  So very proud of me.  I am just focussing on hopefully getting on this ferry.

It's now a week later than I had wanted to leave.  I have made several different driving plans.  If I can get this far, go to here.  If only this far, go to here.  I inform people on playa that I will not necessarily make any of my shifts (at this point I have no idea how long it's going to take me to get there.)  This is pretty much everything I didn't want to do.... Go in an old, unknown vehicle that I haven't driven at all until the day I left...

I am done and at a stress level beyond anything that's remotely ok and I haven't even left town.  And I don't know if it's stubbornnness or determination or un-smartness but I can't seem to not go forward.

I really had hoped to be this awesome, fun loving chick enjoying this wonderful solo trip.  Nothing in the weeks or days leading up to me being in the ferry lineup had been anything like that at all.  Not fun.  Not even close to it.  Just fear and anxiety and worse worse worse.  And no one there to comfort me.

You guys, it was awful.  So so awful.  With no break in sight.  August 26th, in the ferry lineup... hating everything while trying to be in the moment and positive.  Scared out of my mind. 


kandijay said...

Oh honey -- I need a lie down after just reading this! I'm so amazed you are still alive, because just the stress of buying the vehicle would have killed me!

Sending you all the positive energy I have!

Victoria said...

Thank you. And I need(ed) a lie down after reading it. Not sure how I got through it all to be frank...

Jason Langlois said...

I think you got through it all because you're more capable, powerful and amazing than you give yourself credit for. But it's just too much crap (10 lbs of poop in a 5lb bag?).


Victoria said...

Thank you.