Winter had released its grip on the lowlands but when we climbed into the mountain passes it was relentless. Our retreat back to the valley city was long and chaotic, navigating this 3 tonne truck, filled to the brim with all of our worldly possessions, through storm after storm after storm. As we were beginning our accent over the second of these mountain passes the winter frost heaves still had gripped the road, sending it upwards at every broken seam. Such road obstacles are easy enough to spot while driving during the day but when driving at night in a poorly lit truck, in a snow storm – not so easy. The result was finding air time and landing with a resounding crash that held the inevitable conclusion all the way back home.
I backed the truck into the driveway and left it for the night, waiting for the big reveal the next morning in the light.
Winter had left this valley for the season, yet you could still chase the snowline up the surrounding mountains. But today, the sun was shining and there were all the hallmarks of spring showing up. It was encouraging to be back ‘home’, to enter our home once again, and in those sweet moments it was as if the last year never happened. Except for the fact that we were now unemployed with no job prospects and with financial resources quickly coming to an end. Shaking off the inevitable doom, I unlocked the back of the truck and lifted the door. As it opened, many of the children’s toys came tumbling out, crashing to the ground. All of the contents looked as if it was thrown in a blender and turned on for a few seconds. It was only as we were working on untangling the mess when unloading, did the full extend of the ‘jump’ be made known. Our kitchen table had snapped and broke, along with several other pieces of furniture. A financial loss and one that could not have come at a worse time.
It would be a couple of weeks later, longer than expected, when finally we received a call from the auto-transport company, letting us know that our vehicle had arrived. They delivered it to the most convenient spot they could for themselves, which just happened to be in the empty lot across from the restaurant and company that I used to work for before I ceremoniously quit. The vehicle looked as if it had been abandoned in some farmer’s field for decades. I scraped off as much of the dust and dirt as I could in the moment and with a lot of coaxing I barely got the vehicle going. I nursed it home, backing it into our driveway, knowing within myself that I had brought it home to die. It would sit there for several months before we acknowledged this reality out loud and made arrangements to have it towed away for scrap.
In the meantime we unpacked the boxes once again and tried to embrace the awkwardness of living back in this valley city. I was still estranged from my parents and many of our friends and acquaintances were unclear of where they stood in relation to us and I couldn’t help but feel the same way. One thing was clear enough to me, however, and that was the fact that we were not going to return to the church, as I had felt so betrayed in their actions last year. Instead, I wanted to start attending my pastor non-pastor becoming my pastor again home church. I wanted to attend because I was drawn to the idea of helping hurting people find healing and then introducing them to the work and community of the larger church. I had convinced myself of the fact that this was his objective – his mission. What was much clearer to my wife at the time was that he hated the larger church and wanted nothing to do with it. Consequently, our entering into this home church agreement was met with much tension between my wife and I initially.
New rhythms began to look a lot like the old rhythms . There was work to be done on the home and spring to help usher in, which kept my wife busy while I participated when I wasn’t chasing down any job opportunities that I could find. Work was scarce in this valley and I was looking for anything. Finally, an opportunity came up at another local restaurant. I knew the old owners of this restaurant, who sold it to this new owner – a lawyer – who then set up his daughter with the business to run, part of his family empire. However, when talking to the old owners, who were friends of mine for a few years, I heard their side of the story where they had been taken advantage of and in essence lost their retirement in the deal.
I tried to not let that bother me so much when I went for the interview.
The lawyer was from a larger city in the interior of this coastal province and was there to try and find some support for his daughter. Apparently, his daughter had been married for a couple of years at the most and was trying to get pregnant. According to her father, he wanted to protect his investment so hiring me and having me trained to take over the business when she was inevitably on maternity leave made sense to him. I would work for his daughter, as her assistant, and after my probation period was up he would sign me on as a partner, earning a small percentage of the business. In the moment I was so happy for the work I didn’t seem to notice that his daughter wasn’t involved in any of those conversations.
Turned out she should have been.