Buying a car, burying a dog, and vacation-induced PTSD

I’m so ready for this week to be over. These last three weeks have been incredibly stressful and emotionally draining for me.

My last moment with Julius after eight years together.

My last moment with Julius after eight years together.

First, my week of intense car shopping…

I spent five whole days car shopping with my dad. Almost non-stop. I enjoyed the part where I got to spend all that time with my dad, and learn a WHOLE lot about the car buying process. I didn’t, however, enjoy the process of car shopping. I also didn’t enjoy the panic attacks in the middle of a Honda showroom, and the Mazda showroom. And the amount of crying in public I did when I finally sold Julius, my Mini Cooper that I’ve had for eight years. But at the end, I wound up with the perfect car. I totally thought I was going to get a used small SUV that I felt kind of “meh” about. But ended up with a brand new Subaru that I’m over-the-moon for.


I seriously love my new car. She’s perfect for me in every way: My favorite color, can fit my entire family, and with such a smoother ride. It’s basically like Julius on steroids! It was also going to be so much more comfortable riding experience for my aging family dog, Ayla. I that was going to be the happy ending to a looong week of stress.

But the very next day, Ayla died after thirteen years of love and laughter. This completely devastated me for two reasons: I miss her so much, and I had to watch Elsa, my loooongtime housekeeper, grieve harder than anyone.

That started my week of intense sadness…

UntitledThat same day I drove over to her home and sat by her side with her family. Which was the silver lining in Ayla’s death — it brought me not only in touch with Elsa’s family, but totally bonded us.

We all met up at my apartment the next day to bury Ayla. I don’t think I’ve fully recovered from digging and burying our baby. It’s exhausting both physically and emotionally.

Then started my search for a new dog for Elsa. None of us wanted her to be alone, and she said she was ready for the company a new dog would bring. And I finally found one!

She’s a nine-week-old pup that I tracked down after days of online searching and failed adoption attempts. I was looking for a young female Boston that I could preferably adopt. But none of the available Bostons fit my needs. Some of them were too old (couldn’t put Elsa through another death so soon), some of them were too aggressive, some of them didn’t do well with other other dogs, or kids, and some of them needed a home with multiple dogs. Either way, none of the shelters I looked at would let me adopt by proxy, or adopt without seeing a lease, or adopt to someone in an apartment, or… a hundred other ways they would have turned me down.

So I had to buy, or make Elsa wait, alone, for who knows how long. And I actually found a good situation. It was a female, purebred, Boston puppy who was the only one of her liter, born from a GORGEOUS mama who is happy and, most importantly, healthy. I got too meet the mom, and oh man, I wanted to adopt HER! But I got her rambunctious pup who is just so incredibly smart.

I know she can’t replace Ayla — nothing can — but we all hope she’ll make Elsa just as happy as Ayla did one day. And look at what happened when Elsa met Alya (yes, it’s “Ayla” backwards):

But at the same time, it was and still is truly stressful. Is she the right dog? Is Elsa truly ready? Will she get along with MY dogs eventually? (It’s not going so well right now.) Will Elsa be able to handle the needs of a puppy while working?

And I know, I know, this shouldn’t be ON ME to figure this out. It’s now Elsa’s dog and she’ll figure it out and it’s not like she hadn’t owned a dog before, but this is a puppy and it’s different, and Elsa’s not very “pack leader-ish” and and and… my mind just spirals out of control down Anxiety Alley.

Which was why I was SO beyond ready for Aaron and my annual camping vacation on Bainbridge Island, called “Meadowfabulous.” In years past we’ve fallen in love with Meadowfab as it’s a time for us to just do nothing but relax and hang with new and old friends and just do NOTHING but eat, drink, maybe nap, and make S’mores over the campfire.

Thus started my week of intense stress…

Sadly, this year at Meadowfab was the year of the overwhelming kid energy. Attempts were made by wonderful boss (who throws this annual event) to try and make the kids-to-adults ratio somewhat tolerable, but due to circumstances out of her control, that plan went off the rails. To the effect that, even people who both have and love kids were feeling overwhelmed. But for a childless couple like Aaron and me it was extra overwhelming.

From the moment we arrived when we couldn’t get a conversation to continue without a child interrupting, or struggling to hear/be heard over the screams, it was clear that this was NOT going to be the relaxing time for which we were desperate.

Our gorgeous child-free escape for the weekend! Despite all the craziness, Sacred Groves is still one of my favorite places to be on the planet.

Our gorgeous child-free escape for the weekend! Despite all the craziness, Sacred Groves is still one of my favorite places to be on the planet.

After setting up our tent deep in the woods, in a strange Freaky Friday-esque personality swap, Aaron went back to socialize and I stayed behind to try and calm frazzled nerves and have some quiet alone time. Eventually my hunger over-rode my need for quiet and I plunged back into the hectic jumble of ear-splitting sounds and toddler-fueled dangers such as flaming wooden sticks near unsuspecting eyeballs, and boundary-testing spits in the face.

The only reprieve came the day everyone left. Sunday evening was by far the best night I’ve had in these past few weeks. Aaron and I partook in an incredible dinner with Ariel’s wonderful family. We carried the dinner table out on the porch and ate a meal made from eggs purchased from down the road and salad ingredients picked from the garden just steps away from our table. Topped with a dessert of blueberries, hand-picked that morning by a toddler who was actually a delight to be around! (Watching Aaron and Tavi play game the two of them made up together will always be the warm and fuzziest memory from that trip.) Followed by a viewing Life Of Pie with Ariel and Dre in the dark and glorious quiet!

Though there was much less acrobatics this year, it WAS the first time I got involved.

Though there was much less acrobatics this year, it WAS the first time I got involved.

When I look back on the trip, THAT is the day that I try to remember, as well as the few moments of Meadowfabulous-type awesomeness (see the picture on the right). Instead of the screaming and the personal space-invasion, and the evil laughter after wine-spilling, and the screaming, and the flaming hot sticks, and the fucking un-ending screaming…

And now we’re back home, and I’m scrambling to catch up on work. I’m feeling like I’m drowning in emails and unfinished posts, and generally feeling like a loser. I cried again last night thinking of how much I miss Ayla. My brand new car reminds me of brand new car payments, and then I end up feeling guilty about all the money I spent on our vacation that left us feeling stressed out.

And now, at the end of what I hope is the FINAL week of intese stress and anxiety (the sadness, I’m sure will kick around for a while), I must get back to my piles of work, get the favors ready for my friend’s bridal shower tomorrow, and try not to psych myself out with the fear that no one is going to come to my birthday party on Sunday night.

The TL;DR version: I hate car shopping but love my new car. I’m still grieving the death of my family dog. Buying a puppy is stressful even when it’s not yours. And our vacation weekend left us Googling “adult-only hotels” while waiting to board our plane home.

6 thoughts on “Buying a car, burying a dog, and vacation-induced PTSD

  1. Allen

    Mi Princessa, I will always cherish and remember the days we spent in the “Great Car Search”. I still find it hard to believe that, at the last minute, we found the perfect car. As a father, I found tremendous pleasure and pride in watching you unwillingly learn about the “car buying process”. In so doing you matured just a little before my eyes.

    Your Mom and I are very proud of you and the magnificent way you handled yourself these last few weeks. Your unselfish acts brought joy and comfort to many.

    Love, Mom and Dad

  2. Beretta Fleur

    Last month, we lost our 10 year old dog while unemployed and crashing at a kid-packed sibling’s house. It was a really stressful time. I feel your pet loss/money/kid stress and can only say HANG IN THERE, IT GETS BETTER. <3 <3 <3

    Thanks for sharing.

    1. meganfinley

      Oh my god. OH MY GOD! That’s horrible. I’m so sorry. I can’t even imagine losing my girl in the MIDST of a kid-filled home that isn’t my own. Gawd, I’m sorry you had to go through that.

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