I’m excited to report I turned another year older last week. I can’t express the acute relief I felt at experiencing this particular birthday, almost as though my turning one year older automatically washed away the difficulty, change and constant incredulous state I experienced during the last year. I entered into a Saturn Return; I shook off the bizarre twelve months past and forged forward into this year ahead. A year, I have decided with vigour, will be a most excellent year.
Particularly fitting it was then, that I had two "instances" (lets say) or more "This-kind-of-weird-and-ridiculous-stuff-only-happens-to-me" events on the lead up and early part of my twenty-eigth year on the planet.
With Jon away at a race, and our landlords finishing out a holiday, I was in charge of general house care which included chicken-sitting while everyone was absent. This task I don't mind so much as I have found quite a bit of joy in chicken-sitting previous to this. My only real irritation is locking the chickens up at night, when it's dark, and late. I am reminded both of the pitch black that is living in the country-side vs. city, and also the complexity of my over-imaginative brain, that conjures up only images of horror flicks, or deeply distrubing TV shows where the killer remains unfound and the murder unsolved. I forge into the black pitch of the night, small headlamp on, usually singing out loud. I thought about carrying a kitchen knife for defence as well for these late-night-post-work-chicken-lock-up events, but I thought that might be a little melodramatic. A few days before my birthday I was out back with the chickens, cleaning the coop, adding hay into the coop when the door shut soundly and firmly behind me. I stood up and pressed agains the door. Locked. The locked door. I had locked myself into the chicken coop. With Jon and the landlords away, being alone on this Sunday in the far corner of the far end of a massive property I fought the immediate rising terror that I wouldn't be able to get out of the coop. I began to bang on the door. I was stuck! I had locked myself into the coop. I began to scream and bang on the door in unison, creating a ruckus I am sure perplexed my two small feathery friends nibbling on lettuce I'd just fed them. I looked at the small box hole the chickens used to get outside into the caged area. The panic was pulsing through my veins. Jon had no idea I was here, no one in Victoria had any idea I was here, our landlords were gone, I wasn't expected at work until Tuesday, I was going to be stuck in the chicken coop, possibly for days. My overactive imagination once again kicked into overdrive. I imagined myself, dehydrated, trapped, surviving on chicken feed. Fortunately, with a little bit of leaning, banging and running towards the door it eventually unlocked, releasing me back into the world. I, shaking, crying, wailing, walked back to the house. Later when I told Jon the story on skype I watched him slowly tilt his head to the side. "Um, Holly," he asked me very slowly and cautiously, "you do know there is a safety latch on the inside, right? One to pull in case of these occasions?" (Erm, no.)
Right around this time I also developed quite the whopper of the flu. Appropriate, I felt, that 27 had been kicking my ass all year long, so why not finish up with a flu bug? One last gnarly little poke into my psyche before I rode off into the sunset of my new year of life. Once I arrived at the birthday-day itself, I was fortunate to feel a little bit better, on the other side of the illness. I was not perfect, but I was better, and I took this as a positive omen and a reason to believe things were continuing on the up and up! I had a lovely day, but as I nestled into bed at night and lay horizontal, I began the hacking cough chorus that kept me awake for a solid hour before Jon and I mutually agreed I needed to take care of it before it kept both of us awake for the rest of the night. A quick google search revealed that Victoria has no 24-hour pharmacy (What. Seriously. Wow.) but there was a place I could get to (right downtown) that closed at 12am. Grabbing my rain jacket and not even bothering to change out of my pjs, out of the door I flew, purse in hand. I backed down the driveway at 11:20pm and then the most cruel thing that could happen, did. The gas light came on.
Being that I have tested my limit with the gas light before, I knew I had about 15km at least before my baby girl stopped working and ran completely out of fuel. I knew it was at least 11km into downtown - my next destination. I was going to be cutting it extremely close. I pressed the small black button over my odometer and reset the count to 0.0km, continued driving, and started praying.
At approx. 12km and 11:40pm I arrived in downtown Victoria. Ironically, I could only find a parking location right in front of The Mint, a trendy new restaurant/ ultra lounge in Victoria I have been dying to try. Can you imagine how excellent I felt getting out of my (almost empty) jeep nearing midnight (on my birthday) to a glamourous and beautiful looking cluster of people standing outside The Mint? I pulled my hood over my head and made a direct line to the pharmacy. I paid for some extra-strength night-time cough syrup and only then did another thought cross my mind. "24 hour gas station?" I asked the woman behind the counter.
"I dunno," she said, looking somewhat amused. "Why?"
I wanted to state something clever, but decided instead I needed immediate help and accurate information. I was fairly certain cynicism wasn't going to help the Karma Bank Account in this situation. Turns out that in Victoria, gas stations like almost everything else, close early.
So now I am standing back outside in downtown Victoria, the time on the clock closer to 12 by each minute. Gas station. Within 3km-ish. 24 hour. I use my handy iPhone which gives me a super map of stations in the area but with no real promise of any of them being open. With no gas in the tank I knew I couldn't afford to make a mistake. So I did the only thing I could think of. I hailed a cab.
When the cab pulled over I explained to the confused driver, no, I didn't want a ride, I wanted to know where to get gas. By the time he figured out he wouldn't get a sale from me, I could have probably run through the entire downtown looking for a gas station. At any rate, he instructed me to the only 24 hour he knew, near Crystal pool.
Near Crystal Pool? Just outside of downtown? Gulp. This one was going to be close.
I booked it back to the jeep, past the group of fabulous looking people, caring less about my appearance and more about how I was going to call and tell Jon he needed me to #1 come and get me downtown and #2 I was going to need some sort of container to transport gas in. I turned on the ignition and pulled out of downtown. 13, 14, 15km went by quickly. Too quickly. New territory now, I thought, trying to hum along to a song on the radio. Now 17km. Passed another closed station. Still five minutes from quardra village and the promised station. Now 19km. The small yellow gas light has never shone so bright. I roll over into 20km. Hello God, I said out loud in the car. It's me, Holly. I know I've been asking for quite a bit lately but if you could help roll me to a gas station that would be pretty sweet. I am reminded of that scene in Along Came Polly where Ben Stiller can't flush the toilet and starts praying in a similar, desperate sort of manner.
20.5km. I can see the gas station in the distance.
21km. I see a cluster of teens in all black hanging out near a corner. It must be a gas station!
21.4km is what my odometer reads as I pull into Mohawk, at 12:19am. There is an ambulance and taxi also filling up. I feel a palpable sense of relief. I drove home, and tapped my bright red finger nails on the steering wheel. Back up island, into the darkness of our little community. I picked a bold red earlier in the day during my nail appointment, a birthday treat to myself. I had looked to the bottom of the nail polish bottle, as I usually do, to ensure the name was interesting enough to earn a colour swatch on my body for a week or so. The colour? Abundance. I chose it, chose 28 to be an abundant year. This was my last thought as I swallowed a couple big spoonfuls of syrup and fell into bed, where I had a modest, if not someone broken by coughing, sleep.
As I wait for that Abundance to find me in every form, I feel grateful. You can now begin, most excellent 28th year!
I live in Calgary where I own a small business, instruct fitness classes and call myself an endurance athlete. I am the proud owner of four bikes, an expensive wine education, and a strange fascination with the colour orange. I have a long-time love of football, baking, and coffee. I put my minor in creative writing to use occasionally both here and in other publications.
I live with my tall, handsome and often-hungry professional triathlete husband.
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