Last month both my country and our neighbour to the South celebrated their independence, I felt it appropriate to write about it as I also experienced my own form of independence day recently.
On June 25th I loaded all my belongings in to a 14 foot truck, fastened my little car to the back and started on my journey across one of the largest countries in the world to my new home on the West Coast.
Paul had to stay behind to finish up some work in Ontario so I set off alone. Alone with my 37 foot rig and the open road.
I think it was at the moment when I hugged my parents and my husband goodbye that I realized the magnitude of the move. British Columbia is far!!!
As I drove away I realized I had to do it on my own. At least for half the journey; the next 3 days and 2211kms I was on my own to navigate and manoeuvre this beast of a vehicle. I was responsible for myself entirely.
I took this leg of my journey as a great challenge; a chance to regain some of the independence that is often lost in a marriage. I’m not saying that dependence on your spouse is a bad thing, I’m just saying that for me…I needed to remind myself that I am a strong woman and that I can do more than I think I can.
It’s easy for me to ask Paul to do the things that I am uncomfortable doing and he is happy to do those things for me but I think what has happened is I have begun to believe that I can’t do those things. I have begun to believe that I need Paul to do them for me and that kind of dependence feels a lot like being trapped.
Things went pretty smoothly. I even crossed into the US with my big rig with no trouble at all.
Driving through Illinois I began to get tired. It was dark and it had already been a long day. Suddenly the shoulder of the road was filled with tiny lights reflecting back at me and I was afraid that an entire herd of deer was about to dash in front of my truck. Then I realized the lights were fireflies. Thousands of fireflies along the side of the road. They were enchanting and they lit my way for miles.
I hit Chicago around 11pm and was surprised at the volume of cars still on the road. Amidst the traffic my low fuel light went on and I began looking for a place to stop. However, in the city there are no signs to tell you which exits have fuel so as I drove my fuel gauge plummeted and my blood pressure rose.
Out of desperation I chose to take a chance and exit on Fullerton Ave which I quickly discerned was not the safest area. It took me some time to find a station and the one I found is not one that a female wishes to use alone at night. But I had no choice.
I went in and paid hoping my credit card would only be charged for the gas I purchased. As I began filling a young man came over to speak with me. He asked me about my car on the back and about my move. He said I was “dope” (and some other phrases I won’t repeat here) for driving that rig and moving so far all by myself. I think he was trying to tell me he thought I was brave. At that moment I felt anything but brave.
May I stop to give every man reading this a piece of advice? Please! Do not talk to a woman when she is alone at night. No matter how friendly you think you are or how harmless you believe yourself to be. Please! Leave us alone! You can only seem like a threat in a situation like this.
I made it to my hotel close to 1am and stumbled to bed. It had been a long (6am-1am) and emotional day.
The next two days I drove with headaches and nausea through blinding rain, flash floods and gale force winds. But I made it all the way to Winnipeg – without crying! I made it on my own – independence.
Driving for three days alone you have a lot of time to think. In my hours of silence I got to thinking about independence. It’s an interesting word because the breakdown of the word itself seems to contradict its own meaning.
The fourth day of my journey I met up with my best friend in Winnipeg and she joined me for the rest of the trip. I can’t tell you how much more enjoyable and less daunting the rest of the trip was.
Independence…maybe I’ve misunderstood this word.
What if independence isn’t about doing it all on your own? Part of me wonders if true independence is knowing you can do it alone but choosing to do it with others. Choosing to be in-dependence of others. I had come to the realization that I didn’t need Tanya on my trip and that changed my relationship with her slightly. I didn’t need her there but I knew I wanted her with me. That was an empowering experience. I think I appreciated her more because she chose to help me even though I didn’t need it. I chose to have her with me because I wanted her there not because I needed her help.
After all, is anything in this world truly independent? Eco-systems work in dependence of all the other creatures in it. We strive for independence; we consider it brave and strong but I’m beginning to think that my skewed version of independence is very unhealthy. Just consider what happens when one organism in an eco-system becomes stronger or less dependent than the others – plague and/or extinction.
I think maybe my version of independence is actually better describe by the word “hermit”. I don’t want to be a hermit. I like people. I like being a strong woman who knows what she is capable of and that she is capable of a lot. However, I like being a woman who chooses to include those around me in my life.
I choose to live in dependance.