I was anxious already about this past Wednesday, had trouble sleeping, I wasn’t looking forward to venturing out in the single digit temperature cold. I hated Luke’s work alarm as it went off and I put on my long johns under my jeans for the first day this winter.

Today I would take the initiative to accomplish goals that have been on the fridge list for the past two months: register my car, get a NY drivers license, get a new phone/phone plan, and then to Wegmans for my weekly trip to the grocery store. This may seem like normal life tasks. But for an introvert, who detests change or new challenges well, it creates stress. I knew I had to be independent, risk change and failure, and face new challenges head on.

And that is what I did. Just in a very different way then I expected.

After dropping Luke off at work, I got coffee and dolled up for my new license picture. Then I started my outings with the AT&T store.  After telling the salesman what I had rehearsed in my mind all morning he informed me that without Luke’s authorization as the person with the AT&T plan, I could not sign us up for a new contract.

Failure number one.

So I put gas in the CRV and turned to the 86 West toward the DMV. Suddenly I hear a deafening thumping sound, hollow it echoed through the car like a bad bass system. I could feel the car struggle to gain speed. Thinking quickly, I turned left instead of onto the freeway, cars passing me as I went half the speed limit. As I drove towards the Wegmans parking lot my mind ran through the million things that could be wrong with my car.

Listening to the sound I asked: Is it a belt? It doesn’t smoke or sound like the radiator when it cracked. Is it the transmission?, No, the RPM’s and all engine lights are normal. Is there a problem with the anti-freeze because it’s so cold? No, the engine shows normal temps. . .

I finally breathe a sigh as I park in a remote corner of the massive grocery store parking lot. As I get out of the car I prayed oh please let it be something easy to fix/something I can see, not some major internal problem. As I round the front of the car I see the front left tire is shredded to pieces and completely flat.

A flat tire:

I am relieved beyond belief. With anxiety gone, I call my parents (I know not very independent of me-remember baby steps) to double check I am still have AAA service. Once I had reassurance help was on the way, I left the cold car and put my ancient cell phone with a dead battery in my pocket, praying it would not die until AAA comes. Then I did the only thing I could do: I went grocery shopping. As I shopped I realized the time and recognized I wouldn’t make it to the DMV:

Failure number two

I trekked back out to the deserted corner of the parking lot, put the groceries away, and returned to the warmth of the Wegmans café. I ordered a raspberry tea (I know shocker, don’t worry coffee is still near and dear to my heart) and settled in the café to wait.

It didn’t take long for Mr. AAA man to call and come to my rescue. He had my spare tire on in minutes in spite of the snowy temp. of 9 degrees. Grateful I got back on the road and headed home.

As I left, I realized I wasn’t upset at myself for not accomplishing my big anxiety-producing goals. Instead I was proud of myself, for taking the initiative, thinking on my feet, and being independent. Once I realized the problem, I calmly jumped into action. I know it may seem insignificant to some. This is not a heroic feminist story of how in the freezing snow on the side of the highway I changed the flat with no assistance. But this is a story of risking change: learning how to deal with conflict and the unplanned on my own. And I think I it’s ok to be proud of the little things when you’re learning to transition to a new life so far from “home”.

my poor torn up tire
The raspberry tea that kept me company as I waited for AAA

12 thoughts on “A lesson in Independence

  1. Amanda, this is fun! It gives me a glimmer of what kind of a woman you are. It also jogged my memory of my days as a young woman away from home. I look forward to reading more about your adventures. While some people may not recall what it is like to make major life changes, the truth is moving to a place where you know absolutely no one (Luke does not count), and have no idea what lies ahead, is both very very exciting and very very terrifying. Being shaken from our comfort zones is not always what its cracked up to be, even when it makes our life better! This is especially true if you are not a big lover of change. In times of trial (large or small), when I wonder “what the heck am I doing?” I just recall the “immortal” words of my father. When any particular person was recounting a story of trying times, or he himself was recounting one of his stories, he would get that trademark twinkle in his eye, a big smile on his face, and enthusiastically end the story with “every day’s an adventure!” Ain’t that the truth??!!??

  2. I love it! Had me laughing and crying at the same time. Gpa said “she is learning a lot in a very short time”. Just glad you are OK and can make lemonade when you are handed lemons! Love you so much and we are so proud of your accomplishments – large and small!

  3. For those who don’t know: Luke and I are sharing one car: my little red CRV, so the majority of my concern was with whether or not I’d be able to pick him up from work on time, or at all.

  4. Loved your adventure! Diana forwarded me the link because she said it was great and I agree. I’m reminded of that old cliche: it’s not the destination that counts, it’s the journey along the way. I look forward to reading more about your new adventures! And thanks, Melanie, about that memory of your Dad. I can definitely picture Uncle John getting that twinkle in his eye. That was his trademark!

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