So you can’t even go to Grease Monkey to get your oil changed without your boyfriend, but think you can go to Europe alone.

A memoir

The first time I used a drive thru (whilst actually operating the vehicle myself) was in 2015, at the ripe age of 20.

The first time I filled up my car alone I let out a few frustration tears.

The first time I ordered my food for my own self, instead of making my friends or family do it, was probably somewhere towards the end of middle school, maybe beginning of high school.


Needless to say, this is, and has been a side of me — one, at times, crippled with irrational fears — that I am not proud of nor like.

And while I have taken steps to get over these fears, (i.e. going to school where I knew of someone from a nearby town, but we didn’t really know each other, forcing myself the summer after my Sophomore year to say “yes” to social invitations instead of sitting comfortably alone in the safety of my room, and ordering my own damn food), it’s evident that they are still a part of my life, and unfortunately, my identity.


I knew I needed an oil change before my boyfriend and I drove back out from Colorado to Wisconsin this past June. I had called the local Subaru dealership to set it up, just as I successfully had done in the past.

But lo and behold, sticking to my true procrastinator roots, the week before we left had no openings and I would have to figure out a different way to get an oil change.

Which meant I would have to get an oil change in a way in which I hadn’t done before.

Which meant I was going to freak out and be taken back to the girl hiding behind my dad’s leg in the line at McDonald’s.


The oil change incident of 2017 was at the beginning of June.

Less than a month before I was set to be in Spain.

Be in Spain by myself.

Where, sure, I had studied the language and knew it well enough.

But, where I had also never been.

And where I also didn’t know a soul.

All this, an adventure arranged by a woman who needed her boyfriend to — less than a month before she was set to be alone in a foreign country — not only go along with her to Grease Monkey, but to also talk to the workers and essentially act as though it was his car.


“Oh, that’s awesome. What are you going to do there? Why do you want to go?”


Initially my answers were like:

“Just get better on my Spanish, explore.”

“I don’t know, work on my Spanish, check it out. See what happens!”

“Now’s the time!”

And then, as my departure date got closer, my answers held some of the initial answers but were also more like:

“Ha, work on my Spanish probably. But who knows, maybe just stay in my Airbnbs too scared to do anything, ha-ha.”

To which people laughed.

And I did too.

But, since I knew myself…

And since I have been the person who denied friends the drive thru while I was driving because it was awkward and uncomfortable and I had never done it and I didn’t know how.

And since I have been the person who spent many a nights just writing and drawing in lieu of being with people who asked for my company.

And since I have been the person sitting at Grease Monkey pretending that my car wasn’t my car.

… Since I knew myself, I knew that it might not necessarily be a joke.


I knew it was a possibility. To sit in my Airbnbs, too afraid to leave.

Which, is part of the reason I plummeted into this decision to spend almost all of my life savings on this trip to Spain… to get over these irrational fears.

I saw it as one of the only ways.

Because I would have to learn how to survive and get over it.

I couldn’t just starve to death in a poorly ventilated and overly-furnished European apartment in the northern part of Spain.

I had to value my life and survival more than I feared whatever it was that always paralyzed me from doing… literally normal everyday things.


But, I can’t lie to you and say that it’s been a magic fix.

My brain didn’t just click and was like:

“Hey, yeah, you’re right. This is easy. We have to survive on something other than granola bars. Get out there, lady! Let’s eat some real food! Let’s walk around! Woo! Livelihood!”


My brain is still like:

“Uhh, I mean… yeah… walking sounds nice again. And sunshine. And fresh air… but we have at least enough granola bars for a few more days. There’s no need to go out there where you have no idea where you are, or what you’re doing. This Airbnb bedroom is safe. This Airbnb bedroom is comfortable. And, hey, there’s no need to get an oil change if you just stay in here.”


But… day by day.

I guess.

I know I’ll be fine.

And I’m already learning a bunch and growing just by thinking about why I can’t bring myself to get out there and do the things.

I did go for a walk yesterday for 5 minutes.

Then I sat on a bench and there was a water fountain nearby and this dude was filling up a cup and just let it overflow for like 30seconds and had a creepy aesthetic… so… I decided to go back to my room. I wasn’t ready for that shit.


So.

If you can’t get your oil changed without your boyfriend, but buy a plane ticket to a foreign country where you know nobody… just know that it’s a gradual fix, not like an Oxy Clean commercial that instantly removes the stains of anxiety from your being.


Here’s to maybe leaving my Airbnb today to find some real food!