Car Meets Clarity
The car was a deep blue, my favorite color, and as I drove it out of the dealership on that warm, rainy April afternoon, I could hardly believe it was mine. It was 2006, and I had just bought a new car for the first time; one with smooth leather seats and a CD player and wide doors so I could easily put my two children in their car seats. I hesitantly moved through traffic and steered on to the highway, hardly able to grasp that this beautiful, brand new car was really mine to keep.
It’s been ten years, almost to the day, since that tentative ride, and the time had inevitably come to look into purchasing a newer option. My beautiful blue wagon had over 200,000 miles on it, and I started noticing small moments of synchronicity as the universe gently nudged me in that direction. For example: I’ve been considering how much I can spend per month on a car payment and still handle my other financial responsibilities. Every time I looked at the numbers, the same amount came up, over and over again. Four months ago I received a raise at work, for EXACTLY THAT AMOUNT.
Whatever you say about my Higher Power, you can’t say it’s not crystal clear.
So I began considering my options and finally made an appointment to test drive a newer car at a dealership. The day before the appointment, the “Check Engine” light came on in my car, yet another nudge, and I was fully prepared to get the process moving along. I did pray before the appointment, asking my Higher Power, “Look, if this is the right car for me, please help this process go smoothly, and if it’s not the right car for me, please make it as obvious as possible so I don’t miss it.”
When I arrived for my appointment, the car had been sold just the night before. Like I said…my Higher Power is CLEAR.
I looked at another car, took a test drive, and liked it. It was affordable and in good shape, so I arranged to buy it. Yesterday I picked up my new car and dropped off my old car as a trade-in. Everything went smoothly, like a stream flowing over pebbles or a wave washing up on the sand.
But as smooth as the process felt, I wasn’t fully prepared for the feelings that bubbled up over the loss of that beautiful blue car. Trading it in felt strangely like disowning a family pet; as I drove away in the pouring rain, I could hardly bear it as I drove past my blue wagon and left it sitting forlornly in front of the dealership.
My strong feelings have given me pause. It’s just a car. What’s with the emotional tidal wave?
Well, I bought it when my children were four and two years old. They were the center of my world. I can barely remember them at those ages: how they sounded when they talked to me or to each other, how they dressed and what they liked, how we spent our days together. A photograph can only hold so much of a memory. Those two children are now fourteen and twelve. They’ve changed, become more of themselves, and I feel like I missed something. I feel like I could have held on tighter, more often, so their early years don’t seem so far away now. Letting go of the car feels like letting go of the memories too.
That car not only bore witness to the growth and change of my children, but also my personal growth and many life changes. I drove that car through the end of three relationships, including two marriages. It carried my belongings from a house to an apartment to another house to (finally) the house where I live now. It carried me to my first job after six years as a stay-at-home mother; it carried me home after I was fired from my dream job; it carried me safely through feet of snow and torrential rain and long commutes. It was the only expensive thing I owned outright, so I never had to worry that I couldn’t keep it, even when my finances were a mess.
That beautiful blue car encapsulates my thirties, a painful and difficult decade that brought about massive change in my life. When I purchased it, I identified as a straight, married woman. Within eighteen months, I would identify as a lesbian, which threw my careful, neat world into chaos. I made tough decisions and cried over the steering wheel more often than I care to remember. In short, I am not the same woman that purchased that car ten years ago. How could I abandon something that had been a part of everything? It felt as if I was leaving myself in that dealership parking lot in the pouring rain.
Before I arrived at the dealership, I put my hand on the dashboard and spoke to my car:
“Thank you so much for everything. Thank you for carrying me. Thank you for carrying my children and keeping them safe. Thank you for being there through all of it. You have served us well, and now you can take care of someone else and make them happy.”
And then I let go and drove away. And I realized, as I moved through traffic and glided gently on to the highway, that I am definitely not the same woman that purchased that blue car ten years ago. The woman behind the wheel is more confident, more willing. I trust myself, and I trust a power greater than myself. There’s no hesitancy this time, just clarity and gratitude. A new chapter has begun.