On Monday October 16th - nine days after my 23rd birthday - I bought myself the ultimate present, my wandering partner, Gypsy-Rita the conversion van.
On Tuesday October 17th I bounced into the DOL, excited to get Gypsy’s title transferred and have her registered. Come to find out, it was a good thing I had my credit card with me because I wasn’t ready for the taxes I owed on Gypsy. In short, I spent nearly 400 dollars more than I had planned to. I thought to myself, “Okay, this is the other shoe. It has dropped. No more surprises" - now we all know where this is going.
On Wednesday October 18th my cousin sent me a text, “Gypsy’s window is halfway down.” It was pouring rain and I was a half an hour from home at a belated birthday breakfast with my sweet friend, Sourena. I was up and out the door in two minutes filled with rage at the world, frustration with my partner for leaving the window down, and disgust with myself for not taking better care of Gypsy.
I sped home, nearly hydroplaning in the rain, frantically texting Cody trying to understand what happened (sorry Mom, I know I shouldn't text and drive). Needless to say, Gypsy was pretty soggy when I got to her. But we were able to fix her up. Cody drove up to dry Gypsy's soggy interior. I gave him a hug and a little shake when he arrived and sighed, “Well it happened, and now all we can do is fix her up.” Again, thinking to myself, "This is the last shoe to drop. Smooth sailing from here.”
On Friday October 20th Gypsy refused to start. She moaned and groaned. And I, most definitely moaned and groaned in unison. “Why does this always happen to me?! I do everything right! We took her to the mechanic! We test drove her! It’s so fucking unfair” I sobbed to Cody. I was livid, and felt like a total victim. Believing the universe had it out for me.
A few days later, with a fresh perspective we got her to the mechanic, and her engine had simply flooded because of the drastic change in weather, total fluke! Luckily, AAA is amazing and our mechanic is rad and didn’t charge us a cent to clear out the engine and check her temperature.
On Wednesday November 22nd I got off work late. We were supposed to leave for Lopez Island on our first van trip ever and we were already rushed. So as we sped down the hill to fill Gypsy up with gas things were already a little tense. We put $40 bucks in the tank and turned the key and...she didn’t start.
The day before Thanksgiving and we were stuck with a van that wouldn’t start and mechanic who was home with his family. I was speechless. Numb. Entirely at the end of my rope. After a few minutes of sitting in silence Cody called his brother who troubleshooted with him, as I scrolled through local mechanics. After many fruitless calls I ended up on the phone with Bellingham Automotive. “We have thanksgiving plans on the island” I pleaded after being turned down yet again.
“Okay, okay, let me see what I can do” the woman at Bellingham Automotive said.
The next thing I knew the owner was on the phone, “Can I hear you try to start it?” he asked.
We attempted to start the van and he said to us with certainty, “It’s the battery. Look, if you guys can get it jumped and down here we can put a new battery in her and get you on the road today. If you can’t we may be able to come down and jump it for you.”
I was nearly in tears. My body buzzed with gratitude. We got a jump immediately and were able to put a new battery in Gypsy in under an hour (we'd long known we needed a new battery, so that was on us. Lesson learned, don’t wait on your list of repairs). And before we knew it we were on the road with slightly amended plans.
On Thursday November 24th, Thanksgiving Day, I ate turkey, cranberry and cream cheese bagels with my best friend in our warrior van. And I gave thanks, because damn, my first month with Gypsy had given me many gifts! I thought back to a post I had read on October 16th, the day I bought Gypsy. The post was about radical acceptance, and I cried as I read the beautifully written words by Brianna Madia: “It can be nerve-racking to rely so heavily on something that owes you nothing. If Bertha (her conversion van) has taught me anything it’s radical acceptance...it’s taking a deep breath and smiling and sighing ‘this is where we are.’” And that it is exactly what I did, “this is where we are” in the ferry line, a day late and yet perfectly on time, eating delightful thanksgiving bagels, on a miraculously sunny November day!
It was a lot easier to practice radical acceptance in a moment of ease. But in that moment I accepted every breakdown, soggy day, and extra penny I spent. Gypsy had taught me so much already. By buying her I had committed myself even more deeply to a life of wandering, a life moving toward more impermanence and vulnerability. And Gypsy was getting me ready for this new part of my life, because, boy did I need it.
After a lifetime of attempting to control the beautiful, powerful and oh-so very wild world around me, I needed to learn how to take a deep breathe and sink into exactly where I was, good or bad. Gypsy has taught me this and I am not always a gracious learner. I am often a tearful, slightly nauseous, panic stricken learner. But Gypsy has been unequivocally patient. She has handed me situations where I have support systems surrounding me, the comfort of my current home behind me and incredible mechanics ready to save the day. She has prepared me slowly, and kindly, and I have no doubt she will teach me many more lessons as we continue wandering together.
So on the day that I write this, January 18th 2018, 3 months after Gypsy wandered into my life I write about my gratitude, about my radical acceptance, in hopes that it will help you learn more gracefully and joyfully than I have during your own wanderings. I also write to tell you, if you need to sit in the car sobbing to reach radical acceptance that is great too!
So be kind to yourself. Praise your triumphs. Accept the challenges the universe gives you, and know that you have the power to handle these challenges and accept right where you are. Embrace your ability to learn, grow and accept!
Love and light to you lovely readers,