What a whirlwind!

You'll have to excuse me, as I'm having a tough time sticking to my blogging schedule. There's a lot of good stuff going on at Lodekka, but it's kept me really busy, and a little too brain dead to be remotely interesting on "paper." As I continue to refine my routine, I'll get better at posting interesting tidbits and outright stream of consciousness rants here. Thanks for hanging in there with me!

***

I still can't believe all the things that have transpired over the last 10 months. If you would have told me back in April that I would be spending most of my time on a 1965 double decker, greeting fascinating individuals from all over the world, exchanging stories and helping them find something fun to take home with them, I would have thought you were under the influence of something.

I've always known that I was free to pursue any line of work I wanted, but I've spent most of my life helping other people pursue their passions. I don't want to sound like a martyr; I just always enjoyed being a part of others' successes. I've been a college admissions counselor, recruiter and community outreach organizer; in each case, I was helping a company or individuals get where they were going. Not once did I ask myself what I wanted to do with my life. When I noticed that my last job was in jeopardy, I started to mull over that question: what do I want to accomplish? Is this it?

Then my employer made the decision for me. Apparently my destiny was not to sit in front of that computer monitor for another 6 1/2 years.

It's amazing how nothing seems impossible when you're left with absolutely nothing to work with. I suppose I had nothing to lose. I had minimal savings, no income (not even unemployment), a mortgage, a car payment, a dog, a loving and supportive partner and a really good idea.

Once I was granted unemployment (after duking it out with my former employer), I decided to use that money to start over. While I really wanted to cash my check each week to pay for a long string of mind-numbing cocktails, I opted instead to spend what little money I had on a dirty, ragtag, neglected, smelly double decker bus. (It even looked like someone had given it a nasty right hook in the front fender: the equivalent of an automotive black eye.)

I immediately bonded with the bus because I was feeling neglected, too. I had worked so hard and poured my heart and soul into jobs that had benefited other people for all of my life. I had been a workhorse for other people's aspirations. Ginny had spent her golden years alone on someone's property in Eugene with all of her windows open, through about 15 years of rain, snow, vegetation, mold, sun and critters. It was time for the two of us to get a well-deserved spit shine.

I really didn't know what I was getting into. I often tell people I understood the gravity of my decision, but I didn't.

I have never labored so hard in my life. I worked until I felt like I couldn't stand up. It was simultaneously grueling and cathartic. Whenever I felt exhausted or overwhelmed by the project, I reminded myself of how frustrating it was to work in environments where it took a committee of people to make the most trivial decision. Not in the bus. I did something, then I sat back and inspected the result. No committees, no hoops to jump through. Just me and the bus. At least in this case, the boulder moved when I pushed it up the hill.

I'll never forget the day - four months into the conversion process - that I finally took a dress into the bus. I hung it on the handrail attached to the ceiling of the lower saloon. Amidst the unfinished floors, missing windows, unpainted walls and dusty seats hung this beacon: a 1930s frock with flowers and grapes and petite covered buttons. That moment got me through the next 2 months. I needed to visualize Ginny's future as a clean, welcoming space filled with color and life.
With a sandwich in one hand and a PBR in the other, I sat and stared at that dress for a solid 10 minutes. Then I got up, tracked down my mallet and chisel and continued scraping up the flooring, one square inch at a time.

Nowadays, I sit on my perch on the bus, greeting customers and exchanging stories, and I can't believe it's the same bus I spent six months fixing up. I still look around and notice things that need to be done, but for the most part, she's back in action. And most people don't even notice her black eye. They just appreciate Ginny in all of her content, retired glory.

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