It started with a broken washing machine and ended with an epiphany.
We live in a perpetual state of laundry. This vital piece of equipment in my clean clothes for all campaign goes down and well, we reach critical mass quite rapidly. Something must be done and done post haste. Replacing the washer wasn't an option, so after a day and a half of trouble shooting our symptoms on the internet - we figure we've discovered the problem and it appears to be "fixable". I figured dh would stop by the appliance store on the way home from work, pick up the needed part and I'd be back in business by bedtime. Only, it didn't work out that way.
Within four days the stench and sheer mass is overwhelming. Yet, I have waited patiently, anticipating the arrival of my White Knight any second, any minute now . . . and in exasperation I threw up my hands upon running out of recyclable underthings and proclaimed "I should just fix it myself - one could die waiting for someone else to do it!"
Now, maybe you don't find that to be particularly earth shaking, and at first, it wasn't to me either. However, I did fix it. I called the appliance store, then loaded my two youngest into the car, drove to get the part, came home and took my washing machine apart. With the help of google and someone who blogs about fixing washing machines (truly - with pictures even!) - I took it apart and put it back together and by golly, it worked. I then spent the next 3 days, every spare second in the basement attempting vainly to catch up on laundry. As I sat sorting and folding clothes - I wondered why I hadn't just done that in that first place - rather than waiting practically a week and fixing the washer only out of frustration and impatience (and a little anger to be truthful). You see, I've always been the kind of girl who just dove right in and fixed whatever needed fixing. Half the time I didn't have any idea of what I was doing - just figured that once I got there in the middle of the problem, I would figure a way out of it. I come from a long line of "fixers". My father, my father's father, my father's father's father, etc. All genetically blessed with a mechanical aptitude. I mean, my dad can fix anything! I use to revel in that ability - thrilled to be useful and thrilled to be able to point at something that was broken and now was working and say "I fixed that!" There is something immensely satisfying in that, and rather empowering. Now, it wasn't always cool to be a girl and know more about cars than some of the guys I dated. And you know what? I didn't care! I wasn't going to be a helpless female, nor pretend to be someone other than myself, in order for someone else to feel superior, or to ask me out on a date. Yet, I had just done that - I played helpless, so someone else could play hero (and I was woefully disappointed I might add). I moan and fussed and fretted through days of inconvenience expecting someone else to slay my dragon. I hated myself for it. In the middle of this new found bit of self loathing, I wondered what the heck had happened to me. Now, in fairness - this really isn't all hubby's fault. He knew about my independence when he married me - in fact, he thought it was kind of cool. So, really, it's not that surprising that he didn't just rush in horse galloping, sword flashing and slay my beastie for me. While I am a wee bit upset still that he didn't seem to care so much that it was a major issue for me and probably wouldn't have until it began to inconvenience him, I really can't claim surprise at all. Then, while I am folding those clothes that I am now able to wash again - I'm watching tv, into the wee hours of the night. Since that is what happens when you get so far behind. And while I am watching tv, I catch a movie I haven't seen in ages, a movie I loved. "Royal Wedding" with Fred Astaire - most notable for it's dance sequence where Astaire dances on the ceiling. It is during this dance sequence that I begin to feel another sense of loss, because I am crying through it in a sense of almost joy like I have just come across a long lost friend. I use to watch old movies all the time - I couldn't get enough Rogers and Astaire. When did I stop watching old movies? It didn't stop there - there was when did I stop watching football? Stopped feeling giddy excited over jets? When did I stop listening to jazz? When did I give up musicals? When did I stop wearing high heels? When, when, when and why, why, why?
A month later I fixed my car. The blower on it went out. I started with the resistor and when that didn't fix the problem, I climbed up under the dash of my car and replaced the blower motor. Me. I did it. And it felt goooooooooooooodddd. Kind of like rediscovering a lost favorite piece of myself. This time I didn't wait for someone else to do it. I had scheduled an appointment with the garage to have them do it, but then had second thoughts and cancelled and dove right in. Ordered the part online and then put it in myself with help of another online tutorial. (Gotta say loving the internet sometimes . . .)
My 40th birthday was the beginning of one of the suckiest years of my life. Not because a bunch of horrible things happened, but because I had such a sense of dissatisfaction. I felt lost and miserable. It started with a broken washing machine and ended with an epiphany - my identity had nothing to do with my uterus, and my dissatisfaction as such had everything to do with not remaining true to myself. I felt invisible and useless - and maybe I might forgive myself at some point for allowing myself to become so, because, ultimately, I'm the one who let it happen.
"Comes the Dawn"
After awhile you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn't mean leaning
And company doesn't mean security,
And you begin to learn that kisses aren't contracts
And presents aren't promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open,
And learn to build all your roads
On today because tomorrow's ground
Is too uncertain for plans, and futures have
A way of falling down in mid-flight.
After awhile you learn that even sunshine
Burns if you get too much.
So you plant your own garden and decorate
Your own soul, instead of waiting
For someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure...
that you really are strong
And you really do have worth.
And you learn and learn.. .
With every goodbye you learn.
-- Veronica Shoffstall
So Goodbye old new me I became and hello new old me that I want to be again - I've missed you! I've dug out the Billy Holiday and Cole Porter for the occasion. I have both AMC and TMC schedules so we can catch all our old favorite black and whites and borrowed "Unsinkable Molly Brown" from a friend. I cheered on the Vikings - even though they didn't make it into the superbowl. I bought three new pairs of shoes - none of which has less than 3 inches of heel. And the next time the car breaks down, I'm just diving in - probably put on my 4" retro pumps when I do - just for kicks and just because dang, they look good!