Once released from hospital and back in the apartment recovering, a new picture began to come into focus. I still desired goals mentioned in my previous post, successful in my career, with a woman who would be my perfect match, having children, eventually owning a dream car and a dream home, living “happily ever after”. Although the relationship with my then girlfriend was adapting itself. Not in a satisfying direction.
Before getting sick, a new car caught my eye, a Z24 Cavalier. For its day, this was a very nice sporty looking car. The one I saw was a deep blue colour with chrome rims, something I hoped I could one day purchase. Since I was promoted at work I had received a raise. While I was in the hospital I was still being paid Short Term Disability. The only bills I had were half the cost of the apartment. The rest of the money was going directly into my bank account.
I had mentioned this car to my father while I was in the hospital. Now that I was out he said we should go have a look at the dealership. I laughed and said I didn’t think I’d be able to afford it but we went anyways. I picked up an information book about the car and the available trim levels. Looking at the Z24, it seemed out of my price range.
As the weeks went by, I continued to adjust to my new life with an Ileostomy. I was becoming more comfortable with changing the appliance as necessary, slowly gaining weight and most importantly I did get a haircut!!
Oftentimes I would pull out the book on the car. My girlfriend would quickly remind me of “our plans” and purchasing a new car would not fit into those plans. She was looking forward to us buying a house together in a very small town near to the acreage where her parents lived. My whole life I have been a city boy. Living in a rural setting never appealed to me. Especially when I was being told the change of pace is what I needed now more than ever. The last thing I wanted was to slow the pace of my life! I wanted to get back to my new job and reconnect with friends.
Again my father saw me reading the book, drooling over this car. He said, “let’s just go back and speak to them”, and so we did. In conversation with the same salesman as a month earlier, we started to crunch the numbers, starting with mid range options, then compared them to the fully loaded Z24 package. With a small loan from my dad,to my surprise the Z24 package was viable. I distinctly remember saying to my dad I should really call my girlfriend first. Quickly he said “it’s your money, your life, you deserve this after what you just lived through. You can easily afford the payments and insurance. It should be your decision”. He had seen the way in which she and her family had been treating me, knowing she wanted to go down a path I did not. I made the decision to sign the papers!
I had two things I wanted in the car, first a standard. I never had owned or even driven one but always wanted to. Second, I wanted a sunroof. The dealer said the only available Z24 with those two options was in Edmonton, so I would have to wait for them to ship it down and it was yellow…. After looking at the pictures of the yellow ones I said sure, why not. And so it was done, I would take delivery in just over one week.
I’ll never forget when she got home from work. I was laying on the couch tired and in pain from being out. She saw I was reading the information book yet again and made a snide remark about throwing it away. My dad quickly made a smart comment in response to which I told her I had purchased one and would be delivered in close to a week. As you can imagine, an argument ensued. For one of the first times in my life, I stood my ground to do something for me and not give in to the expectations of others.
When the day came to pick up the car, she still would not speak to me about it. I picked the car up with my dad from the dealership. Having never driven a manual before, I could not even drive it off the lot. But who cared?, I certainly did not!! The feeling of satisfaction learning how to drive my dream car of the time was an exhilarating moment. It was at this time where I was only weeks away from starting my gradual return to work plan.
In the evenings, or late at night, I remember getting into arguments over the car. Since I was still in pain and not yet comfortable driving the standard, I would go to the apartment parking lot and simply sit in the car. I would listen to music, practice my shifts and reflect on what I had experienced that lead to this moment. By this time I knew my relationship would not survive. Listening to how she spoke of my family along with my decisions, including lack of interest in relocating to a small town, I quickly knew it was only a matter of time.
There were moments where I felt as though I had chosen a car over a person. I know this was not the case. My wife even says, if it were her I was with at the time, she would be right next to me at the dealership taking pictures!! I deserved to have something positive to walk away with and enjoy, especially since it was easily affordable.
Needless to say, I loved that damn car. I did have to sell it at a time where my wife and I were expecting our first child. I had reached a point in my career where I received a company vehicle. It was tough but the car served its purpose.
We all have desires or a light at the end of the tunnel for when we perceiver through a challenging time.
For some, it may be a material item, while others simply wish to return to a sense of normalsy. At the time, the car was my desire. As I have grown older, been married, had children & a home. My desire is to return back to them, not a material possession. I have spent weeks in the hospital at times, whether due to Multiple Sclerosis, Pyoderma Gangrenosum or my Ostomy.
As for most my age, in a situation where they are disconnected from their families, there is nothing more valuable than returning back home to their families.