Friday, February 13, 2009

the end of the beginning

The Vantasy: When did it begin? As a bright-red-Clairol-box-dyed seventeen year old working as a pool attendant at the local RV resort, my awkward boyfriend brought me McDonald's Chicken McNugget(TM?) meals while I dipped tiny strips of paper into the water to see what color they'd turn and made sure kids didn't drown on my clock. I was a "pool attendant," certified in nothing, pining for the respect given to actual Lifeguards, but knew that I could barely swim and would not have the slightest idea how to give CPR should a situation arise.

Back then I used to pray. I believed in God. I wanted to marry my cat, Hershey. I ate meat. My favorite singer was Alanis Morrisette. I wanted to be famous. I attended a pool for a living, and I thought it was the coolest job ever because I got to talk to boys and get a tan and get paid.

Me with Chicken McNugget Boyfriend before my junior prom

I met a woman there, while working at the pool, who had two matching little girls with white-blonde, waist-length, pin-straight hair. After spending day after day, week after week, marinating in chlorine, their white-blonde hair began to take on a greenish tint. The mom trusted my advice, being the chlorine and hair color expert that I was, and we became friends after I spent an hour's worth of my wages on a bottle of shampoo that I guaranteed would restore the towheads to their natural Swedish-looking state. A gift, from the fake lifeguard to the perfect little flaxen beauties.

Turned out that this family was my first intimate encounter with full-time RVers, and I remember being blown away by the fact that a family could live in an RV resort in Hartland, Michigan for a couple of mosquito-laden summer months, then follow the warm weather south whenever they had the notion. A house on wheels! The ability to see the country on their own time! Until that point, I'd always thought that RVs were for weekend trips. It never occured to me that you could live in one indefinitely.

The Vantasy was born, in a sense, that summer, though it looked very different in my naive imagination. You see, this was back in the mid 1990s, when people could get jobs that paid living wages AND included things like health insurance and retirement funds. In its first incarnations, the Vantasy was to happen in my retirement years, and I would sell my house in order to buy my RV. And then I would visit my grandkids all over the country and stuff.

Ha! I thought I would own a house! And have grandkids! I was so cute back then.

Clairol #459 Medium Auburn Red. Full of promise and hope. Bill Clinton was the President. c. 1995

And it didn't occur to me until twelve years later, when I woke up alone in my bed with bags under my eyes and pillow marks on my face... after months of feeling sorry for myself about the end of my marriage... that this dream didn't have to wait until some ambiguous point in the future. "What are you going to do, Eva?" I asked myself on that day. I shifted my perspective, made a decision, plucked an event out of my future, and demanded that it happen now.

I've since taken a monumental emotional and physical journey. I made a giant circle around the country while living in a van with a dog. People ask me, "Now that the Vantasy is over, will you still write?" And all I can respond is, "Is it over?"

I'm back in Portland, I've returned to work and have showers whenever I want them. I've spent the last month dealing with reverse culture shock and the difficulty of reentry. I don't live in a van anymore, but the Vantasy hasn't really ended. And I don't think it ever will. Leaving Portland last August placed my life on a new path, a path on which I'm still traveling. I grew and changed in my Vanta C cocoon, and this journey of growth will continue into my future indefinitely.

I plan to continue writing, processing, and perhaps publishing small pieces based on my trip, but today I officially retire There Will Be Breakdowns. I will be starting another blog, but it will be written anonymously, probably based on my career in the nightclub industry. Maybe you'll stumble upon me out there in blogland one day and not even know it!

And I'll keep this blog open for a little while for updates.

Speaking of: My head is feeling better after two weeks. I was still slurring and stumbly a couple of days ago, but am feeling almost back to normal, mentally, since yesterday. My memory isn't great yet, and I rely heavily on my iPhone alerts to keep my life in order from day to day. But I notice improvement every day, and think I'm almost out of the woods. I have quite a bit of neck and shoulder pain still, and headaches, but I'm working on those with yoga and massage. My doc told me that I'm not allowed to ride a bike again until she gives the okay, which I expect will happen during my next visit, this Wednesday.

I've also decided that enough is enough with the reentry breakdowns. While I deserved to whine for a little while, I think that allowance has expired and I've adopted a new old policy of "If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." I'm in pain, have a big ol' medical bill, am in conflict with my former employer, and am stressed about paying rent. But when people ask how I am, no matter how worried or sad I am, I force a smile and say, "I love being back. I have been loving taking a million showers! I stand in there until I'm a prune, then I do it again a few hours later." And then we have a laugh, and my problems all seem to shrink down just a little bit.

Just like waking up last year and plucking my Vantasy out of the future, I choose today to pluck happiness from my future and experience it NOW. I've shifted my perspective, once again, and it's working. We are going to be fine, Ralgh and I. And as long as there's sunshine and grass, family and friends, and 31st birthdays to celebrate (tomorrow!), there's something to be happy about.

Thank you, friends, for joining me on this journey.

With love, sunshine, rainbows, and kittens,


Trina said...

Eva, thank you for taking us on this journey! It's been such a joy to read your blog, you're a brilliant writer and I hope you keep it up. Heck, you're brilliant at everything you try, even breakdowns (emotional and otherwise).

Kev said...



LiveWorkDream said...

Hey kiddo, happy birthday!

Keep up the writing, I'd love to hear more about your life and new perspectives. You are wise beyond your years.