Even a few days in it didn’t feel real. We had done it.
We had made it from the car, into a flat.
Somewhere we could call ours.
I still felt like I was going to wake up in the night, feel around and realise I was still in the car – that this had just been a dream and I was still stuck there. I still felt like an outsider to everyone else, just me and Ryan clinging to reality. But it soon settled.
We had even more hardships to come, but I stopped writing in this diary by then, and now we had a charger – I was officially plugged back in. So I wasted time on Facebook, or reading the news.
I saw an advert for a waitress in one of the local cafes, applied and got a trial shift. It was awful but they gave me some cash at the end so I’m glad I did it. They didn’t offer me the job, but I used the cash to get dinner and treated myself to some toiletries. It felt completely alien to be spending money on something that was such a luxury.
I even stood in the aisle staring at all the shampoos and conditioners debating whether I should do it or not.
Ryan carried on working, although his days were even longer now as he had to commute to Plymouth. And we didn’t have any cash to pay for the toll bridge, so he had to go the long way round.
I still felt lonely most days, but would go and chat to Annette. I even watched the shop for her so she could take her elderly dad lunch and look after him. She was nearly 65, so god knows how old he was.
When I wasn’t speaking to her, I could sit upstairs and feel locked away from everyone. And that was a luxury beyond anything else.
We slowly built up our lives, we lost jobs, we found them.
We had no money, and we had plenty of money.
We grew together again, and tried to forget about all those horrid nights in the car.
We had our first proper Christmas together, and Ryan sold the car that year.
He sold it for almost nothing, and we didn’t really think about it again…
Then we were driving through Plymouth to go for a meal with a couple of friends.
We drove in a different way to usual, having taken the ferry over. And there it was parked up next to a block of flats. Same number plate. Same car. We both stared at it open mouthed as we drove by.
Our lives had come full circle, we were staring at our old life, whilst fully embracing the new… We were dressed well, with new friends. We were going to spend our spare cash at a restaurant- on food that was over priced and would go uneaten, whilst we’d laugh about trivial things and drink cocktails.
And there was our reminder that we should stay humble.
Remember where we’d come from, and what really mattered.
It reminded me that I shouldn’t forget a section of my past just because it isn’t the same as everyone else’s. It was an experience that shaped me, and made me who I am.
It taught me that everyone has their own lives, and own stories running through them. That passing judgement on someone is worthless, that appearances and first impressions can be wholly wrong.
It taught me that a small act of kindness, can absolutely make a difference to someone’s life – whether permanent or not – it all matters.
It taught me I would never regret being kind.
That it’s easy to judge someone from who they look, but appearances only tell you so much, and you have no idea what may be going on in their complicated life.
That no matter what storm I was facing, there was always strength to be found, even if I just took it one day at a time.
But most of all – it showed me that what I own isn’t important, it’s who I am that really matters.