We arrived in Vancouver the evening of May 28. The following afternoon I broke my ankle. As I said in an earlier post, it took me eight days and three doctors to understand that the fracture was extremely stable, that I didn’t need a cast or a compression boot, that I could treat the injury as a bad sprain, and that it would heal itself within two to four weeks. In the meantime however I had to spend most of my time on my bed with my leg elevated, and for the first three weeks all mobility was confined to crutches or a wheelchair. Damn. We were staying in one of the most beautiful areas of Vancouver, right by the water and right by miles of biking and walking paths along the sea wall. Damn!
Don became my main man. Well he’s always my main man but this was different. Suddenly he had to do everything. There was not a word of complaint that he had to do all the grocery shopping and meal preparation, all the household chores and of course all the driving. Instead of us going for long walks together down by the water he pushed me around in a wheel chair for brief outings so I didn’t go utterly stir-crazy. He was an absolute hero doing anything and everything that he could to help me heal, including daily Reiki and bringing me home buckets of ice cream. More than I asked for even, which I didn’t think possible. He says that he wasn’t exactly feeling like the saint I’ve portrayed him to be, but either way I was well taken care of.
I usually feel at home. Because we travel all the time every hotel room, every rented apartment, becomes home as soon as I’ve unpacked. The location doesn’t matter, only the feeling of being at home matters, and it seems to come easily for me. But not this time. I became aware that I didn’t feel at home. And then a little later I was aware of feeling extremely stuck. I haven’t felt that way for a long time, but suddenly there it was. Incredible as it may sound I didn’t link either to my lack of mobility.
Meanwhile Don was having his own problems. He became so stressed that he started forgetting things. Like leaving his pack containing wallet, credit cards, cell phone and laptop at the side of the road and driving off. That was a major panic moment. Luckily, this being Vancouver, when we returned about five minutes later a kind man was looking through it to find out how to contact us. (If he’d been stealing it he’d have been long gone on his motorbike). Another time it was my crutches left at the side of the road. So then he started stressing about aging and memory loss. And he was also stressed that I’d be foolish and reinjure myself. You know how the mind is. One thing goes ‘wrong’ and then it’s pile on – anything and everything that can feed the worry monster. What else is there to be worried about? Pile on.
Apart from feeling concerned for my health, and his own, and having his hands full as the primary caregiver, our loaned car started acting up. It has an intermittent problem: one of those tricky electronic faults that leaves us never knowing if the car will start or not. We once spent half an hour sitting in the car in a downpour. We decided to use it as good meditation time. And then suddenly the car decided to start. After three full days in the repair shop they still don’t know for sure what it is. We had plans to go to the US for a week at the end of June and Don didn’t think we could take the car across the border way it is. He started looking into rentals for the trip. In the mean time every time he goes to start it, it’s a fingers crossed and pray hard moment.
On top of that we had to move on June 26 to new accommodation and again on June 30 to go to the US and Don was worried that I wouldn’t be healed enough to be able to do either. And that I’d be stubborn and try to help and end up reinjuring myself. We move much more gear when we’re in town. We go to our storage locker and get more clothes, and file boxes, and our printer and all kinds of bits and pieces that we think we might need, so packing and moving, loading and unloading the car, is a bit of a production. Much more so than when we’re on the road and have only our daypacks and small cases.
The final stressor was that we had no idea where we were going to be living in July. We had accommodation sorted until July 7, and from the end of July until August 24, and all of November, and two good leads for September and October, and here it was getting well into June and we still didn’t have accommodation arranged for July. Talk about testing our level of trust.
Is it any wonder that we fell into a hole? We were both feeling stuck, both feeling anxious, and instead of looking at that and simply feeling the feelings, we both tried to focus as best we could on how lucky and blessed we were to be living in such a beautiful place, in such a wonderful city. We were both trying so hard to be okay with it all that we forgot to honour what we were truly feeling. We’d lost our freedom and we didn’t acknowledge it, and it was affecting everything.
My biggest fear was not about reinjuring myself, or about how we would deal with all the moving, or the problem with the car, or the uncertain situation with accommodation for July. My biggest fear was that our luck, our serendipity was gone. I am acutely aware that ever since Don and I started on this nomadic journey we have been blessed beyond our wildest imaginings. We’ve felt so grateful and so much in the flow, and the more we went with the flow, and the more we lived in gratitude, then the more everything opened up for us. Serendipity over and over. Horseshoes piled so high we could hardly see over the top. It has all felt like some kind of huge miracle. My biggest fear was that the flow had stopped. Or that we’d somehow lost our way and were caught forever in an eddy going nowhere, battering against the shore and unable to break free. That I broke my ankle was truly shocking in the first place. As the days and weeks wore on, and it affected us more and more, everything seemed to get sticky, and difficult. That was alarming for me after years of everything generally being flowing and easy, and it frightened me.
We had no idea how deeply my lack of mobility had affected us. Until we did. After about four weeks, when I was nearly healed, we finally started seeing what we’d been holding in.
On June 24 we each imagined what our homecoming would have felt like and looked like if I hadn’t been injured. We could each sense a whole different experience and in doing that we came to see how very stressed we’d been. On top of that I had the sudden revelation that I had never actually believed that it would be possible to arrange housesitting in Vancouver for six months. Well that’s certain to stop the flow.
And that was all it took: just a little clarity. Seeing the tension we’d been holding, and seeing the limiting belief I’d been holding with regards to accommodation. God it’s so simple when you can see it. The seeing of it freed it all. An email we’d been hoping for arrived. We followed up on a lead with another friend. We sent an email to another possibility. By the end of that day we had accommodation arranged for most of July, with only five days of it still to be confirmed.
On June 25 I was up early and healed enough to go downstairs, across the road, climb carefully over some rocks and photograph a heron on the beach, and later in the day when the tide was even further out to climb across the rocks and go way out and photograph some Canada geese. Also that day while Don ran errands I raced around cleaning the apartment. My ankle is fine with a brace. About 90% healed. I worked my not-so-little buns off cleaning. It felt great to be getting some exercise again.
On June 27 accommodation for all of September and October was confirmed. We also talked with the owner of the car and confirmed that he’s fine with us taking it across the border with the intermittent starter problem. And for over a week now, ever since we got it back from the shop, it has started first time every time. Fingers crossed that that continues!
On June 29 the final five days of accommodation in July were confirmed.
I guess when you fall into a hole you stay there until you can see the way again. And then you climb out. Because you can. It finally feels like we’re out of the hole and back in the flow.
Photo of the day: English Bay, Vancouver, Canada
All words and images by Alison Louise Armstrong unless otherwise noted
© Alison Louise Armstrong and Adventures in Wonderland – a pilgrimage of the heart, 2010-2015.