Uncomfortable Changes

I have an ancient car.  Not quite a Model T but a pretty old one nonetheless.  It’s a 14 year old Geo Prizm with over 210000 miles on it.  You read that right.  I wanted to get a car to over 200000 miles and I reached that goal this past summer just outside of Memphis.  Oh and the car line doesn’t even exist anymore.  But my little gal keeps hanging on.  I had some extensive work done on it while on that road trip last summer, it helps to have a mechanic who’s a future brother in law, and she’s been running just great.  Just a few quirks, like I don’t really have any heat in it when I’m on the highway as the heat core is shot and needs to be replaced.  The part is pretty cheap but the labor is almost a grand.  And the back passenger window doesn’t roll down anymore.  And the check engine light is lit up again.  But she still gets me from point A to point B and she doesn’t look bad at all.  The paint is in great shape with no rust.  The body is dent free.  I did have an owie this past winter when a snow rut rolled me into the back end of an SUV with a trailer hitch that pushed out a bit of my bumper.  So she’s not without a blemish but overall she still looks great.

I know I’m waxing eloquently about a car, and not a very noteworthy one at that, but you have to understand something.  I’ve only ever owned 3 cars in all of my adult life, 4 if you count the 68 Chevy Nova I used to drive in high school that was really my parents car.  And this little car has a lot of memories connected to it.  I bought it with my Dad’s GM family discount so he’s still on the title.  And now that he’s gone, it’s still something that connects us.  And I used to cart the dogs back and forth to my parents house, first Lily by herself and then later we added Bailey to the trips when I shared custody of him with my parents.  I have many a memory of Lily in her cage on the passenger seat next to me checking in to see if this was going to be  a quick trip or one where she needed to settle in for the long haul.  When we got close to our destination, I’d let her out of her cage so she could sit on my lap and sniff out the window.  Her little paw on my leg as she emerged still makes me smile.  Bailey’s ear shattering bark from the back seat when he got bored or bladderful still makes me jump.  They’re both gone now as well but I am reminded of them frequently when I’m tooling around town.

The reason for all this reflection is I have the opportunity to purchase my Dad’s car, a 3 year old Camry in fantastic condition and kitted out to the extreme.  It’s a great opportunity and one I don’t want to pass up.  It’s just that I wasn’t ready to let go of my old car just yet.  Maybe I won’t.  Maybe I’ll just keep the old one and slowly make the transition.  I wasn’t given that choice with all these other losses.  I think I just need some time.  So I’ll take as long as I need to say goodbye.

Me ‘n’ Elvis

This past summer I had an opportunity to do something I’ve always wanted to do, drive through the deep South.  And when I say deep, I mean DEEP.  I left Chicago, headed down to a first communion in Bloomington, Indiana and the adventure began from there.  Passing through Kentucky and Tennesee-where Jesus seems to own a lot of billboards-I spent a few days in Atlanta at my sister’s.  The ancient Model T I drive, really a 13 year old GEO and I’m proud of her-what’s your point?, was given the once over by a very trusted mechanic, and off we went to Mobile where I had a lovely time with some former clients of mine.  From there we skirted along the bottom of the country, and it really felt like I was at the very bottom before crossing a miles long bridge into New Orleans.  I found the Big Easy to be a lovely city, especially the people and in spite of the unbelievable June heat, I really enjoyed my stay and look forward to my next visit.  Before long I turned the little green machine’s nose to the north and we visited charming Natchez, Mississippi with all of her pre-Civil War antebellum mansions, bustling Jackson, Oxford home of Ole Miss and the most charming town square there ever was, and Memphis.  Of course I had to visit Graceland, after all, I remember where I was when I heard Elvis had died.  I was at band camp.  I just love saying that!  One time, at band camp…

Graceland was fascinating, not in the expected way.  It’s a nice suburban home on 10 acres accessed by a really busy commercial road stuck in a bad decorating 70’s time warp.  The interesting part came when I was waiting for the bus to take me back across the street to the strip mall/museum/gift shop(s)/airplane hanger/garage.  The cute little girl working the line was answering some of my many questions when she volunteered that there were people who came to the mansion over and over, sometimes on the same day, sometimes as part of a year long pass, sometimes to just sit in the same house where he lived.  I was floored-repeat visits?!  Not long after I returned home, Michael Jackson died and the coverage on the media was exhaustive to say the least.  I was sad for his family and children and mourned the passing of part of my youth but otherwise wasn’t really touched all that much by his death.  The proximity of these 2 events got me thinking about the lack of tent-pole icons in my life.  I questioned whether there was something missing that I didn’t have that presence.  I think because I was so close to my family and really had all my emotional, spiritual and physical needs met, I didn’t have to fill any void with someone or something I’d never met.  That made me feel really lucky.  And blessed.

My laptop died in Memphis, just like Elvis did.  It was time to get home.