i finally cried today, and it felt good even though it started out of frustrated fit.
i took my van for an emissions test today so i can get my plates, but the place was closed--president's day, of course. then i decided to get my alignment and brakes looked at since i couldn't do anything else for the van, so i pull into the "Alignment Masters" near the emisssions place and they have a look. the verdict--needs front brake pads, some kind of bushings in the suspension, and a steering coupling thing, then the alignment could take place. the total with labor--750 dollars (estimate). my jaw dropped, and i thought, ok...this is not possible.
so i walked out of there and thought there had to be another way. i went to my boyfriends house and my throat started to choke up, then the tears. he was helping me in every way possible, calling part stores, his mechanic, junkyards, trying to assure me it would be ok. it felt cathartic to express my overwhelm and fear so fiercely, and once it was over, i could get down to business. the total for the parts he found around town was about 100 dollars, a far cry from the over 300 bucks the shop quoted me. and i found a junkyard that had just gotten a camper which they thought had a roof vent--something i've been wanting. i also thought i might find a door mounted spare tire mount there. he called his nice mexican mechanic and got a quote for labor on all these jobs--just over 150 dollars for all the work the shop was going to do for 400 dollars. it's hard to argue for tighter immigration laws when it comes to a situation like this. not that i would, we're all immigrants c'ept the natives. and many of them are immigrants too if you think about it. the guy does good work at a price i can afford, and none of my money is going to advertising or credit card merchant fees or probably even taxes, so it actually feels way better to me.
so we ventured out into the world, dry-eyed, and gathered up all the new parts including one from the dodge dealership (what a trip, those salesmen are slick!). then we went to the junkyard and didn't find what i was looking for, but saw some awesome vans that were obviously homes at one time. i alternated between acceptance and despondence, but decided to keep moving forward with the van, since i'm already in it pretty far.
i dropped the van off at the mechanic a few hours ago and he says he'll have it done tomorrow, so i'm keeping my fingers crossed. luckily i still have a house and roommates who are willing to drive me around for a few more days.
the importance of having a reliable vehicle are heightened now and i'm scared i made a mistake buying a "bargain" of a van, but i have made my choice and i'll stick it out a bit longer. if worse comes to worse, i'll have to get another van--not the end of the world.
i'm grateful for the support of the online vandwelling community, and my friends here in the city. i feel bolstered everytime i read a post about someone elses experience with an abnormal lifestyle. if i'm crazy i'm not the only one:)
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