Did you know they make an air mattress for the backseat of a car?
They do. And they work!
I discovered them when planing my adventures for 2017. I spent 6 months wandering the US in my 2010 Volkswagen CC which holds a surprising amount of things, including all 5’10” of me across the back seat – comfortably even, thanks to my handy car-shaped air mattress.
The cross country road trip was one of many adventures the silvery sporty sedan accompanied me on over the 9 years we were together. It’s funny how it’s possible to bond with an inanimate object. And even odder is how it’s possible to have a complicated relationship with one.
See, CeCe (yes, I name my cars) is a lemon. It’s rare that 6 months go by without something random going wrong. Things like, defective window motors, then a deadlocking mechanism, then a strut, an axle, the windshield seal, you get the idea. One day as I was commuting home, CeCe had been running fine, no error lights on and she just stopped working and started smoking while I was going 40 mph in rush hour. Just stopped! This car is a constant money pit and frustration for me. It‘s stressful not knowing what might go wrong next.
And yet, she has served me so well.
For starters, she was a glamorous upgrade from my last car, Lizzy, a bare-bones Ford with – get this – a cassette player, yeah, CeCe was a big upgrade.
CeCe has taken me across the country in both directions more than once including through 30+ states. She’s been with me through 7 moves, multiple road trips, through 4 Partners, and as many jobs. CeCe is the last tangible vestige I have from my happy, nearly decade-long, and now complete marriage.
During my years as a nomad, after I sold my home and most of my belongings, CeCe was the only real place I had to be that was mine; I might sleep at friend’s homes but when I was in my car that was my space. She was my grounding point.
Clearly, this car is more to me than a burden. We had some great adventures together and she’s been a constant for me through multiple significant life changes.
This car literally served as my home for 6 months.
Last month I sold her.
I took her to the mechanic for another random issue and the second the check engine light was off, we went straight to the dealer. I was super eager to get her out of my life.
So there I was. Feeling relief and excitement to have her out of my life. While simultaneously feeling sadness and grief. What a confusing jumble of emotions.
I immediately began telling myself to focus on the good times we had, me and CeCe. As if I needed to focus on the positive side of those feelings. Or that I need to process one set of feelings before I can move on to the other.
Trying to sort it all out got me thinking about how often I box myself in with feelings. How often I don’t allow space to feel seemingly conflicting emotions at once. For instance, when I get mad at my Partner, there’s rarely any room for affection in the same space as anger. However, those two emotions can exist in the same space, if I allow them to.
Juxtapositions are super interesting to me.
Out there. In the world.
When they’re happening inside of me, with my emotions, they quickly become obnoxious and it seems my go-to is to focus on just one at a time.
However, I can experience two emotions at the same moment.
The Pauli Exclusion Principle essentially states that two identical objects cannot occupy the same space simultaneously. How interesting that I correlated this to feelings, as in you can’t have two in the same space, and totally skipped over a keyword in there, identical.
So, here I am, feeling all the feelings along with a little conflicted and naturally I start an inquiry – where else do I experience conflicting emotions?
In my career and business.
All. The. Time.
- Land a promotion or close a new client, pride/excitement come flooding in along with fear/unworthiness.
- Paycheck or client payments arrive, comfort in the stability along with worry that it may not last.
- Write a new blog post and when I click ‘publish’ I feel both honored/eager to share my experience along with doubt that I’m arrogant to think anyone will care or relate to my weird life.
This experience of Cognitive Dissonance isn’t unique. I’m certain most human beings can relate to it. Think of the opening line to a Tale of Two Cities written 150 years ago – it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
This is not a new concept.
However, for me, it’s not something I’ve really acknowledged or explored for myself on a real level. Since I’m already in a period of exploring feelings, I decided to spend the next few months tuned in to when my emotions seem to be in conflict with each other.
It didn’t take long to find another example of juxtaposed emotions.
As soon as CeCe was gone my Partner informed me that he was going to buy me a replacement car. And just like that, two days later, and along came our new Kia Optima Hybrid. She’s only a couple of years old, very few miles with just enough bells and whistles. She is practical, in alignment with my commitment to the planet, and – most importantly – mechanically sound! And she has his name on the loan, the title, and the registration.
Enter all the feelings again.
I am a strong, independent woman! It is important to me that I be able to support myself. Allowing someone else to give me such an expensive – dare I say extravagant – gift feels….well I don’t yet know what I’m feeling. He doesn’t view it as a gift, rather an investment in our future together (but that’s a whole other conversation on feelings).
This gift definitely has me feeling grateful, honored, blessed, overwhelmed – but also a bit resistant, guilty, and undeserving maybe.
And. He really wants to do this for us, it’s a big deal for him and so, I made room for all the feelings, and here we are.
Her name is Esther and she’s been decorated with my stickers and filled with supply bags for the homeless, just like every car I drive.
Even after several weeks I still notice conflicting emotions surface every time I get into the car. Both about Esther the Kia and how she came to me, as well as around the exit of CeCe the VW.
I guess that just means that this inquiry into feelings and making space for them will be an adventure.