ell, because I didn’t have a vehicle. But why didn’t I have a vehicle? In Arizona? Well, I asked myself that question often. But it was necessary for growth… sacrifice is needed for growth.
Last July, like many months, I was struggling financially. Struggling, as if I need to explain, but I had more expenses owed than I had money to pay for them. It so happen that I had moved into an apartment a year prior and it was conveniently located on a bus stop. Of course you know that was my sign. I thought, this is the perfect time to make a significant shift in my life. I had thought about the luxury of not making a car and insurance payment for a long time. I thought about how much I could save and how it couldn’t be that difficult to take the bus to work, heck I had taken the bus in Philadelphia every day. But, I was quickly reminded that I wasn’t in Philadelphia any more.
After I was faced with no alternative, I surrendered my vehicle. So you know God has a sense of humor. Many times what I dream comes true. What I really mean is, the surrender of my vehicle was the second choice that I was forced to make after I thought, dreamed and wished for it. And, ‘it came to pass’… I had no other choice… I was now without a vehicle. Quickly, I realized I hadn’t really thought this through, but I was going to make it work.
So I began to take the bus to work at least two hours one way, and longer in the evening coming home. I hadn’t planned for the bus schedule that, while conveniently stopped less than half a mile away from my home during the week, did not stop there on the weekend or even outside of rush hour (three hours in the morning and three hours in the afternoon) Monday through Friday. I was lucky enough to live less than one mile from the grocery store, so I walked to get my groceries. But I was determined to make it work.
My youngest, of who was entering his most social and crucial year of high school-a senior-would now have to also take the bus. While he was a trooper and always noted, ‘mom it’s really not that bad’, he would now need to have a ride to and fro his basketball and soccer games. So the surrendering of my vehicle to save money quickly turned into money spent on a rental vehicle to ensure my son participated in his senior year as a normal student. It was important to me that the choices I made did not hinder him from a life of a normal teenager.
Needless to say, riding the bus for a year was brutal. It was either extremely cold (for Arizona) or extremely hot. No, I found no happy medium. I felt embarrassed and did not want anyone to know. I did not attend many events. If I did, I either arrived very early or left early, sometimes car pooled or made excuses to hang around afterwards. My story at the office was I carpooled daily, or at least that’s the story I remember. Yes, I shared my journey with a few people, but no one else. I guess, I wasn’t living like no one was watching, because I was constantly worrying that someone may see me.
What’s ironic, although I am now driving (at the conclusion of my story, but not at the start of it), I still do not feel empowered. When I started that journey, I was waiting for the euphoric moment that would attach itself to a story made for a movie, or least a book. Where is my euphoria? What was my struggle for?
(book excerpt by Bettina Vance-Johnson, ‘Empower Women to Succeed, Turning Tragedy into Triumph’)