Henry and I have been together more than twelve years. I often call him the love of my life. He has seen me through an abusive marriage, a long-term relationship, periods of homelessness, the loss of my dog — everything. He has seen my trials and tribulations and the countless times I’ve fallen short. I have relied on him, and he has not let me down.
Henry is my Volkswagen. He is a fully anthropomorphized 1969 Type 2, a hippie bus, with camper interior, a hard-top, and jalousie windows.
He has found his way into the hearts of And Be Happy readers. Chapter four, titled “Henry”, is the story of how we met. It chronicles my shift from wanting nothing to do with him to adopting him as a symbol of my ability to take care of myself. I lived most of my life without a sense of home, but in Henry, I can feel at home anywhere.
Everyone Loves Henry
As much as I love Henry, I had not anticipated the reception he has received from readers and new friends. I still get caught off-guard at the excitement they share when they meet him for the first time. Sometimes I will be flagged-down when new acquaintances recognize me at a traffic stop. We roll down our respective windows, and they yell across from their lane, “Is that Henry?” When I confirm that it is Henry, they invariably address him with something like, “Hi, Henry,” or, “It’s so nice to meet you, Henry.” Readers from out of my area have written asking if I still have Henry and rejoice when they hear that we are still going strong.
When I have a problem to solve, Henry usually has a part in its solution. A drive in Henry can cheer me up, take me to the ocean, get me away from a stressful situation, and hold all the supplies for the ridiculous number of things I want to accomplish on any given day. I have napped in him between double-shifts. I have had private space to meditate or even cry, and I have shown him off to fascinate my friends’ children.
He elicits smiles and waves from strangers passing by. He inspires story-sharing from passersby in parking lots or the gas station. He’s been with me since I was nineteen, and I can’t imagine my life without him. He keeps putting along, despite my low level of skill in maintaining him.
Henry Makes Everything Better
I recently had an all-too-real taste of what life would be like without Henry. I spent a few months without him in operable condition, and it was one of the biggest stresses in my already stressful summer. I felt so restrained. I couldn’t accept some of the work I wanted. I had to hike my groceries home on foot. I struggled to look at new places to live because public transportation took up so much time. Worst of all, I couldn’t freely visit my family down in California, and it was a summer full of family issues I wanted to be around for.
Now you’ve met Henry. I’ve referenced him in past posts, but he’s never gotten much of an introduction. Future posts will reference him and his influence in my life, and I didn’t want you to feel lost.
Rebecca encourages survivors of domestic to speak about their experiences and to lean on each other for support.