Independence holds no value when you have lost the ability to enjoy it somewhere along the way. And it seems that it usually takes something happening, something unexpected, to remind you of how much you are still connected to those important in your life, despite your best efforts to think otherwise.
This was the position I found myself in about a week ago. As many of you may know from whatever social media outlet it is that you follow me on, I recently hit ice on the highway and spun like crazy, crossing all three lanes of eastbound traffic and smashing into the median, oncoming cars and a snow bank before it was all said and done. It was a very efficient way to total my car in a matter of seconds, to say the least, and has left me the pleasure of walking with the stride of a 90-year-old nearly 8 days later.
The reason I am telling you this is because the first thing that went through my mind once I realized that, not only had I stopped spinning, but also that I wasn’t broken or even bleeding anywhere, was I want my dad. I could not tell you the last time that those words crossed either my mind or that I said them out loud, which I’m pretty sure I did in the car, but it’s a bit fuzzy to tell you the truth.
I pride myself on being independent. I always have, and it’s something that I will carry with me my entire life. It has always been a personality trait that I have embraced, and worked to cultivate, and even gotten pretty good at faking to others when the faith I have in myself is a little shaky.
But what I realized this last week was that being independent is always easier when you have someone who you can be dependant on to catch you when you fall. Taking risks is easier when, as much as you don’t want to admit it to yourself, you could be rescued rather quickly should a plan B need to be drafted. Who this rescuer is simply is not the point; spouse, parent, sibling, close friend. Failure is hard enough to swallow as it is, having no one there to soften the blow only makes a failure absolutely miserable.
I had no independence this last week anywhere near the amount I was used to. Weather being as vicious as it has been, without a car I was basically home bound during the day while friends worked their normal 9-5 jobs. Walking more than a few blocks or biking were not really options. And I mostly missed the little things. Going to the grocery store at 2 am. Getting Caribou on my way to work. Not spending another one of my last few Tuesdays off at the Soth exhibit at the Walker I have been meaning to see since October.
I learned that taking your independence for granted happens quickly, before you can even fight it, and that it takes being dependant on others to get it back and for you to appreciate it for what it’s worth. Dependence in the form of the biggest hug you have ever received from your dad, who at seven am, on the side of the frontage road in a -20 windchill, can tell your shaking is more from a weird mixture of fear and relief than the cold and wind. Dependence on awesome co-workers AKS and MJG, who offer to bring you to work before you even have to ask, just like you knew that they would, and to all the other co-workers who also offered, past and present. Dependence on people’s opinions of cars to buy, and dealerships to check out, and financing options for a purchase you were not even planning on having to make. Dependence on your mom to get you to the mall for those final Christmas presents, because that show must go on, and her ability to make you laugh in the process because, even though it hurts your bruised chest, she just knew you needed that.
Because all this dependence got me to yesterday, the day that I got the gift of my independence back. In the form of my new car that allows me to wander through life as I need. I ran errands when I thought of them, and at my own speed. I got my Caribou fix. In a few minutes it will be 2 am, and although I’m too comfortable in my pajamas to get dressed again and head out, the fact that I could run to the grocery store if I wanted to means as much to me as actually being able to go.
I keep looking out the window to the alley and checking on my car. When I hear another car coming towards it I fight the urge to watch and make sure it doesn’t get hit, because that is a way to go from concerned to crazy in a heartbeat. I have never cared so much for a physical object. Yes, I have never owned such a nice thing before, so that is likely part of it. But, mostly, yesterday I really got it. The fact it that it was not just me and my independence that bought that car. It involved so many more of you, at a time when I really needed it. And for this lesson, I am grateful.
And so, for all the thoughts, emails, phone calls, rides, advice, laughs, offers and prayers this last week, THANK YOU. It meant so much. Merry Christmas to you all, and as always, thanks for reading.