Friday night, January 25th. I was cruising on 70 West through northeastern Kansas, when things seem to come unhinged. I was pulled over on the side of an off-ramp, dozens of miles away from Manhattan, staring at my car with its hood up. That I know of, I’d never been stranded roadside before. I called all the people I was supposed to call — the people expecting me in Manhattan, older brothers who know cars, my car insurance’s roadside assistance hotline, and a pseudo-dad. (Except, I didn’t call my mom. I didn’t want to ruin her fun night out with friends. She needed to have fun.)
The problem was obviously not a small one.
My car has burned through all of its antifreeze, and overheated. A while later, when the car had cooled and my older brother gave me the green light to give it another try, I fired Trigger up and…noticed he was misfiring. Badly. So, the best option was to pull my car off the road, have it towed to Manhattan, and have the cavalry (Jodi) come sweep me away to a warm, welcoming home and a meal.
We made the executive decision to (still) spend the weekend with fantastic friends in Oklahoma. (Thank you, Brooke Clay, for teaching us the ways of Stillwater, Oklahoma!) I had a blast, and did my best to forget the immobile, incredibly expensive metal parking lot ornament waiting for me in Kansas.
Come Monday, I found out the real prognosis of my car. Minimally, I’d have to get a head gasket replaced. Maybe the whole head. Maybe the whole engine.
Through the natural progression of disassembly an engine, and some faulty parts sent to the mechanic by a certain auto manufacturer, my total time between the breakdown and the projected date of completion on my beloved Trigger (my car) — 9 days. In those nine days, I’ve slept in two states, and freeloaded on more people’s hospitality and kindness than I care to acknowledge.
This is a cruddy situation.
But I’ve discovered a saying in the last year, that really hits home: “Not every day is good, but there is good in every day.”
If I had to be stranded anywhere, without a car, at least it’s in a town full of people I love. At least I have a support network of friends and family to help ease the situation of having a broken-down car. At least I can take a few days to slow down my pace and take a breath.
In fact, I’m pretty convinced this is God’s way of saying, “Slow down. Take a breath.” I’ve been burning the candle at both ends lately. Maybe this is a forced vacation, for my sanity? Maybe this is a “stop and smell the roses” moment in my life. While I hate being “stuck” and I hate forfeiting mobility and I hate being away from Kansas City, there are so many aspects of this situation that are a blessing for me.
Friends. A week of working from the couch, taking breaks to play with a rag-tag pack of dogs. Lunches with friends that I usually only get to talk to via text message and social media.
Having a broken down car stinks.
Having a broken down car in Manhattan, Kansas, surrounded by some of the best people I know? That doesn’t stink so much. And it’s just proof that there can be a silver lining to just about any cloud.
And besides, clouds always move. Next time one blows over, just remember there’s sunny skies on the other side.