I was living with my Dad again (to get back on my feet after leaving Scout) and was attending a local College to get a Biology prerequisite course.
By local I mean a twenty-five or thirty minute drive by car.
I took public transit.
Every morning I would wake up at 5am, shower and dress, and wake up Shake'n'Bake at 5:30. I would dress her and then we would have breakfast together, before bundling up and making the twenty minute walk to the GO Bus stop.
Bus #1 would take us through three cities into the one where my College was. We would get off at the bus terminal and transfer onto Bus #2.
Bus #2 would take us on the highway, out of the city that my College was in, to a train terminal where we would transfer to Bus #3.
Bus #3 would take us to a different city farther North, we'd get off and walk the ten minutes to daycare.
I would say my goodbyes to Shake'n'Bake, abandon my stroller on the front porch of daycare (don't get stolen, oh please don't get stolen), and run the fifteen minute-walk to catch Bus #4.
Bus #4 took me to the College.
Approximate arrival time? 8:10am.
And then, at the end of every day, I would make the same trip in reverse.
I was spending between five and six hours on the bus every day. At least four of those hours included my one year old.
It was time to get another car.
My Uncle (Uncle #3) was in the used car business, so Dad talked to him about finding me a suitable car.
He asked me what I was looking for.
"Well, this is my budget: $XXXX. Other than that...tires...a steering wheel...ooh! A four-door would be nice, but that's not a requirement."
My Fourth Car was a blue 1998 Chevrolet Cavalier.
I didn't even look at a picture to draw this one.
Beautiful! This car was a God-send.
Suddenly three hours became one. Rain became a non-issue. Strollers became irrelevant.
I was soaring.
* * *
When I moved out of Dad's house, Brother and I got a place that was a ten minute walk from the College. When the weather was nice I could drive Shake'n'Bake to daycare, then come home and not pay for parking and walk to class.
Oh it was awesome.
One day it was very difficult to steer my car. So difficult in fact, that I didn't go to class that day. Instead I dropped Shake'n'Bake off at daycare and drove my car to my Uncle's shop.
He hoisted it up and determined that the Power Steering Line had a small leak in it.
Car-mechanic-mumbo-jumbo and presto! My car was fixed!
* * *
I finished my Biology Prerequisite course and began working fast food to pay the bills before my online College course started.
My little pregnant belly starting to blossom, Brother would babysit Shake'n'Bake while I went to serve pizzas to angry people.
One night as I came home, my headlights shone through the front window to indicate my arrival.
Or so I had thought.
HeadLIGHT would be more accurate. One of them had stopped working.
Brother tried to fix it (I was really hoping it was just a fuse) but to no avail. There was a wiring problem that was just not in the budget.
"dys·func·tion, isn't it illegal to drive without two working headlights?"
Yes! Why yes it is! You are so astute and observant!
* * *
I backed out of the driveway on my way to work.
"Odd...it's very hard to turn...must be...cold..."
Straightening out I realized that it wasn't the cold, it was my power steering again.
I bought more power steering fluid, asked Brother to put it in for me, and then stood there in disgust as it poured out onto the ground.
* * *
The steering stayed broken, giving me many problems in the future.
Especially when I had Death and was too weak to force the steering wheel.
"dys·func·tion, isn't it illegal to drive without functioning power steering?"
* * *
Money was getting tighter.
My belly was getting bigger.
My landlord had to sell his house and we had to move.
In a last-ditch-budgeting effort I called my car insurance company to see if they could help me out.
After they told me 'politely' where I could shove my problems, I asked a broker from a different company.
She shopped around and found an insurance company that would take me for less than half the price of my current one.
So I cancelled my old policy (lost a little money there...) and gave my 'first-and-last' payment to the new one.
Not so much. New insurance company changed their mind. They couldn't insure me any more.
And for whatever reason, they couldn't give me back all of my money.
So I lost a little more money.
I took the one week of insurance that I had left, moved my tired and broken car to my new apartment, and parked it.
On the way over I managed to puncture a tire and get a flat.
* * *
She still sits there today, making sure the driveway doesn't blow away in the wind.