Jul 27


Photo 26As you know by now, I’m a fairly sentimental person…okay, I’m extremely sentimental. That’s why I’m writing about cars today. Not the mechanics of a car, I assure you, nor the driving of cars, since I did fail my drivers test the first time and my family now says with shaking heads that I am  a “really fast driver” (which really I’m not if I can just get to my destination as quickly as possible)…anyway.

I’m a writer, obviously, and a writer, especially one who is writing for middle grade and young adult, has to tap into memories: the painful, the lovely, the funny, and the sad. We have to remember what it was like to be nine, twelve, or sixteen. And remembering the various cars I road in as a child, and then drove as a teenager, and now as an adult, I find I have a lot of memories.

There was the blue station wagon with the wood paneling on the side. The back seat faced backward, meaning that whoever got to sit there was able to look right into the windshield of the cars following us, but did have the unfortunate fate of frequent carsickness. I remember there was a wire that came loose from the stitching on the the seat and each time the three of us girls got in or out of the car we’d have to hold down the wire so we didn’t get scratched. Me and my sisters still bear a scar or two from a too-hasty entry into the back seat. I also remember listening to Kenny Rogers, Jennifer Warnes, Linda Rondstat, and the Beatles on the way to Chlo Lake with our dog Buzz who was just a puppy. And I remember when we gave that car away. The family was Russian and they were patients of my dad. Seeing that they needed a car, he cleaned, washed, and detailed the station wagon (hopefully fixing that deadly wire), and we set it in their driveway. My dad called them while we all sat in our new-to-us car (which I will get to shortly) till they came out and saw. I remember honking as we drove away, the blonde color of Demetri’s hair, and the purple head scarf of the grandma.

Our white Saab with a sunroof–yes a sunroof–was our next car. I remember the black seats, and the way my dad would let us stick our heads out of the roof and wave…my mom holding tight to our shirts as if we’d blow away. My dad blasted Amy Grant, Micheal W. Smith, Whiteheart, and we sang along on our way to church. I remember folding myself up and lying on the floor trying to go to sleep on the long, hot car ride to Ocean City, NJ and then winding down the windows when we were close enough to smell the salty breeze.

The green Montero was the next car we had cause my older sister was learning how to drive. I remember we bent the roof when my dad propped up a ladder on top to set up the basketball hoop out in the driveway. Laughing hysterically as he taught my sister to drive a stick shift, then when he taught me to drive one and then finally, when he’d decided he shouldn’t teach any more, my mom instructing my youngest sister how to drive, wincing and sighing and holding her breath.

And when my older sister went away for college, my dad got my sister and I an old BMW (see, I blame him for any fastness I may have inherited). Every morning my sister and I would drive to school, arriving most mornings with tears of laughter streaming down our faces. One morning a week we’d stop and eat cinnamon rolls at Perkins, and Bob Marley’s Legend album was constantly playing. I remember the hot leather seats in the summer that made you gasp when you got in, and the scent of the interior is some thing I can still smell in my head and in my heart.

Then there was the white Honda my older sister and I had in college. That thing took me all over Oklahoma and even up to Colorado where I fell in love with the west and with my husband. It’s the car I watched my sister pull right over a parking curb with and I still have no idea how we got it out.

My VW Passat was the car I had when my sister got married and took the Honda with her. It was the car that we had while John and I dated, when we got married, when we had one kid, two kids, and then three kids and had moved to 10,000 feet above sea level.

But when number four was on his way, we got a Ford Explorer driven to us all the way from Pennsylvania by an autistic man named Jerry who dropped off the car, took a shower, ate two hotdogs and one bun, and then left with hearty hugs for all of us and a few boogers on the steering wheel. Only last year did we give that one away to some friends who needed a car of their own.

Now we have another car that’s collecting stories and memories for us. But I love how every time I see a station wagon (which isn’t very often, mind you), a white Saab, a Monero-looking car, a white Honda, a red BMW, a purple Passat, and a navy blue Explorer, it reminds me of good things and takes me back in time for a moment or two.

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