The Adventures of Rob and Dorrit (the Toyota Echo): My little Grinch heart beats again

Inspiration is a funny thing in that it can come from the most unexpected places. During my trip home to Ireland last month, my friend Sue proved to be the source of this inspiration for me. Sue and I met over two decades ago and she became known as the girl I let sleep on my bedroom floor rather than offering her my bed when she was forced to crash in my parent’s house. I was young and admittedly stupid and I have never lived it down. Sue reminded me of this very fact as I was touring her new home, with its lovely well-furnished bedrooms. I hadn’t seen her in about seven years and the last time we spent time together, she had just bought her first house and met a new man. Now, she was about to get married to the same man (who is tall, dark and handsome (with a hint of grey) and they have already created a great life together. Sue seemed happier and more content than I had ever known her to be and this really did inspire me.

In contrast, I had spent years working hard trying to fix myself and the idea of deserving is still something I wrestle with to this day. Deserving that good job, deserving that nice boyfriend, deserving to be at ease in my own skin. The list goes on. Yet, I could see in my friend that she had struggled with this and come out the other side a happy soon-to-be-married human. Sue told me to sit down and make a list of things I wanted. With a cup of tea in hand, I began to write. The obvious PlayStation 5 and Porsche 991.2 Touring (in racing yellow) occupied the top spots on my list. As I continued to jot down notes, being at ease with myself, a rewarding career and a romantic relationship appeared. Feeling suitably inspired, I turned on two dormant dating apps I had on my phone. I decided that looking for a romantic relationship was the easiest place to start. I had played the field in Vancouver years ago, I might as well see what Ireland had to offer. Not much as it would turn out, I didn’t even manage to score a coffee date, but I did try to stay open and optimistic. Faith, Sue assured me was vital on this journey. My optimism remained as I landed in Vancouver and was messaged the very next morning by a guy called ‘Jake’. We texted back and forth for the next 24 hours, which in itself was a result, then ‘Jake’ suggested we meet up the next day. It felt a little fast but meeting face-to-face is the best way to see if there are any sparks and I wasn’t getting any younger.

The weather in Vancouver was roasting as summer was in full swing. Thankfully Rory had collected me from the airport in Dorrit and I had the car sitting outside the house on the day of my date. Dorrit has air conditioning and the car was the coolest place I had access to. I hadn’t had time to wash her and she was filthy. Under Rory’s watchful eye, a pigeon had taken a shine to Dorrit and proceeded to poop all over her. I drove to my coffee date but hide the car around the corner. A dirty car would be a red flag for me and I didn’t want ‘Jake’ to assume I was a lazy owner. Best foot forward and all that. We met and he was nice and very self-assured. He had just moved to Vancouver from Toronto and was checking out the dating scene himself. He was a professional and obviously well off. He worked long hours and loved what he did. He was a big personality, possibly bigger than I would like to live with on a daily basis. I had to give him credit though because like Sue, he seemed to be very comfortable in his own skin and he knew exactly what he wanted from life. That turned out not to be me. After an hour, we parted ways and I drove home in the comfort of a cool car cabin. I sent him a thank you text and said if he wanted to hang out again that I would be game. His response was short and honest. He enjoyed our conversation but didn’t think it was a match. I won’t lie, I did feel a little bruised. Not so much at his response but rather the fact that I had felt excited to go on a date only to be almost instantly disappointed. Part of me wanted to delete the dating apps straight away and stay alone on the shelf. But, that was not what I wanted.

What I didn’t want to do was to wallow in self-pity. Coach Nina rang me and asked how it went and I told her the whole story. (Coach Nina is a very important person in my life who originally gave me Dorrit. See previous blogs to learn more). She was having trouble with a flat tyre and I saw this as an opportunity to go and help a friend in need. She suggested I could wash Dorrit at her place and we could kill two birds with one stone. That is exactly what we did. Nina’s building had a washing bay with high-pressure hoses. Dorrit was washed and dried within thirty minutes. I even got to vacuum and wipe down the interior. That feeling of driving a clean car is wonderful and I was starting to feel less bruised. It felt great to be of service and help Nina deal with her tyre. I knew she was worried about driving on it and she wanted someone to come with her in case anything happened. She drove cautiously to the gas station two blocks away and we were both stumped standing dumb founded at the air pump. They operate very differently in Canada compared to Ireland. They do not have a pressure gauge, rather a ruler-like measure that pops out of the base of the hose attachment that shows the current pressure. I had never seen anything like it and would never have figured it out myself if I had I been forced to deal with it alone. Eventually, we succeeded in getting air into the tyre and I collected Dorrit and drove home. Reflecting on the day, I was feeling better. I had taken action in creating a new relationship, cleaned my dirty car and had been a good friend.

I proudly told Amy (Amy is another close friend in Vancouver) all this news over dinner and she laughed in my face. She asked if my little Grinch heart had started to beat again. Humour aside, I had to tell her that it had and I think that is a good thing. She asked to see a photo of ‘Jake’ and I gave her my phone. She said he looked handsome but that his smile wasn’t a real smile. A real smile? What does that mean I asked her. She said he seemed to be putting on a smile because there were no laughter lines. I would like to think I am a good judge of people and photos but hearing this and after having gone on a date with him, I could see she had a point. To that end, I have promised to have her screen any possible husbands before we make it to the coffee shop.

Amy wasn’t wrong about my Grinch heart. I have become jaded and syndical over the last few years. I know with Covid and everything else, many people are in the same boat. I enjoy being surly to a certain extend. Being the cynical one has an appealing edginess to it, while at the same time keeps people from getting too close. The annoying thing is that it seems things only begin to change for the better when you actually let people in. I have heard all that before and even tried to let people in and be more ‘happy’ and easy going. I can see that this is all a choice and a state of mind and thankfully, I am still inspired to try and see where it all leads me.

A huge thank you this month to Sue for being my muse.
Thanks to Rory for keeping Dorrit safe.
Thanks to Nina and Amy for putting up with me! I know it is not easy.
Thanks to 'Jake' for the coffee and a nice conversation.