My breaking bad moment was when I couldn’t afford to pay to get my tags renewed on my new car. Pathetic.
From the first minute I found myself single again, I never doubted for a second that things would calm down and my life would go back to some kind of familiar financial routine, even without a spouse. I’m a hopeful kind of person when I don’t analyze something to death. Recently, though, I’ve begun to analyze that childlike hope, and it is beginning to crumple. I think I’ve gone full circle in my life, and I’m going to be financially starving for the rest of my life, some of which I’m pretty sure will be spent behind bars. I’m officially a criminal. Note the moment…
I grew up very impoverished. My mom and step-father were both from families with money, both of which didn’t share said money with their children once they were adults, and neither of them learned how to be financially intelligent. Instead, they had five children. My step-father liked to buy things like stereos and television sets and my mom was even worse because she could spend an entire paycheck and not have a clue what she’d actually bought. We always had this feeling of impending doom…. the electric would be right on the edge of cut-off, no heat, or we’d hide quietly while an angry landlord pounded on the door. We almost never got presents from our parents on holidays, and we literally ate the same meals over and over and over because they were the cheapest food a person could possibly buy. I was an adult before I realized most people do not actually mix their milk before pouring on cereal, and that the chunks weren’t a special surprise for the eater. Ugh.
I don’t really blame either one of them. I imagine they spent their entire marriage like me… expecting things to go back to what they used to be…better. I’m really glad I grew up poor. I appreciate things other people simply take for granted, and I’m not easily shaken when that financial gloom hangs over me. I know from experience, this too shall pass. I’m just hoping it passes before I land myself a criminal record.
Almost a year ago, my fully-paid off car developed a terminable problem, and I was forced to buy another one. Chef and I never financed our vehicles, instead choosing to buy cheaper, used ones outright, which meant a larger amount of money in hand. (I sure miss Chef’s paycheck sometimes!!) It always worked well for us, mainly because our best friend Ernie is a genius when it comes to anything with a motor, and he kept them running like they were new. My split with Chef, though, had removed 75% of the income I was used to, plus 100% of our savings was wiped out by his drug addiction, and I had to fit a car payment into the already meager budget I was living on. If you will remember, I was already living in the most dangerous ghetto Tulsa has to offer, eating whatever Bekkie could bring home from the restaurant she worked at. The next step down would have been the homeless tent city by Memorial Avenue…..where Chef was living for awhile. We would have been neighbors.
How awkward would that have been???
I have to have a vehicle for work, so I forged ahead and added a car payment to my list of things to worry about each month. I did not, however, take into account that there’s the considerable payment due for the Tax, Title, and License. I owe Oklahoma $548, and I don’t see any rainbow in that picture right now. I’ve owned the car now for over 8 months, and the tags were expired long before my purchase date. I chose not to worry about it. I’d figure something out. And yet, nothing has come to mind!! Rebekkah insists on eating food every single day, and I’m addicted to living under a roof and having a toilet that flushes. It’s frustrating. To add insult to injury, I’ve now been pulled over three times for my expired tags, and I have two $100 + tickets to add to my list of stuff that’s snowballing out of control, and a warning that was given to me by the meanest, most arrogant state trooper I’ve ever run into. It sucks when you’re in the wrong and douches get to lord it over you. It really does.
To say that Rebekkah and I have grown sensitive to the presence of police officers would be putting it mildly. We’re almost god-like in our ability to sense their presence and navigate our vehicle far away from their freakishly excellent eyesight. And we’ve learned more about the city structure of Tulsa in this last year than we ever did the first 10 we’ve lived here. I will do almost anything to make sure a cop doesn’t get anywhere near my license plate, and that includes dodging into parts of town that Tulsa PD doesn’t venture into. The ante has been upped, because if I get pulled over again, I’m pretty sure I’m going to jail, and my car is too. The weird thing is, I’m kind of enjoying the adrenaline rush at the same time the fear is causing me to hyper-ventilate. Anymore, we weigh carefully the pros and cons of any trip we take in the car, and we have Notification Procedures in case one of us gets picked up. We’d set aside bail money for a rainy day, but who has money for bail??? It’s crazy.
Yesterday, Rebekkah had to attend a lecture for school. I get this panicked text message from her:
“OMG! I’m surrounded by cops!”
Instantly, my mind assumes she tried to outrun a persistent cop and has lead them on a high-speed chase, in true OJ Simpson style. That’s one of her bucket list goals, by the way, and she mentions it distressingly often….Seriously. I’m not kidding.
It turned out, the lecture she was attending was some mandatory law-enforcement thing. Surprise, Rebekkah!! After months of developing an almost unnatural enmity with law enforcement, she now had to function somewhat normally completely surrounded by them. Rebekkah doesn’t act normal when she isn’t stressed. She’s the worse actress ever. Almost 4 hours she was engulfed in a sea of badges and guns, uniforms, and an air of suspicion that was probably just in her own imagination, while frantically planning how she was going to get our illegal car out and away without at least one of them noticing our tags are from years ago. I’m amazed she didn’t stroke out. I was at home, and I almost did.
I’m happy to say, she drove away unnoticed and we live to fight another day. But it does make me wonder… Are my glory days of legally compliant vehicles over? Will I ever be able to drive peacefully down a road instead of this covert, intense cat-and-mouse drama I experience daily? I don’t know. I think this is proof we’re heading into the Tribulation. All my life is missing now is locust, and I’m pretty sure they’re seasonal. Oh, and my water, of course.
I say all of that to say this: despite the drama I find myself navigating these days…burst pipes, mentally-ill landlords, perceive police harassment, etc., I still find myself laughing all the time. Life is hard, but it is still fun. I’m optimistic that things are going to get better, despite the obvious lack of proof these days. I have that peace that surpasses all understanding, and I’m truly thankful for each crazy minute I’m alive.
I’m not bored at all.