Thursday, August 11, 2011
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
Tuesday, June 28, 2011
The first time I ever saw her was on a beautiful early summer afternoon, not a cloud in the sky, the way it seems so many fateful days are. We were driving down a busy street in the country, one we had never driven down before, wistfully jumping between peaceful neighborhoods looking at houses. We weren't exactly close to the point when we could purchase a house, but it was fun nevertheless to dream. I had the day off of work and not a care in the world. We had gone to a delicious Mom 'n Pop breakfast joint that morning and then we just drove--me with my flip flops kicked off--not caring how much gas we were wasting. I loved doing that. Just driving around the way we were. There was something soothing about that constant feeling of motion and staring out at the rolling landscapes that enticed me so much and so often.
I remember I'd been looking out my husband's side window when he suddenly asked, "Amanda, did you just see that car?" His voice was excited and a little shocked. Of course, I'd been looking the wrong direction and told him I hadn't. "We have to go back then. You have to see this car." He said this absolutely, as if there was simply no other choice.
He did a quick turn around and we passed it going the other way. I only got a quick glimpse, but one glance was all it took. I recognized it immediately as an old Corvette Stingray, definitely 1970's, for the Stingray era produced some of the most radical, outrageous looking body types I can ever remember seeing, Corvettes or otherwise. It was the look European cars might have but you'd pay a lot more money for.
We turned around again so that we were facing our original direction and I wistfully requested that he pull over so that I could 'take a picture.' Mike pulled our car onto the gravel shoulder of the road without complaint. He immediately hopped out on his side, startling me, for I had planned on simply rolling down my window, snapping a picture with my phone, and then taking back off again. But fate had a firm hold on this particular moment in my life, I know that now, and I was meant to get out of the car. I was meant to get out and look closer.
She was parked in the tall, uncut and weedy grass of what appeared to be an abandoned house-turned small junkyard. Mike would tell me later that there were many oddities scattered across the property, but I honestly remember none of them except the car. It was captivating. Perhaps the only case of that mythical love at first sight that I had (or would) ever experienced.
Close up she was small and aggressive-looking. Sitting low to the ground, she seemed almost to be stalking prey in that un kept grass. Her body was free of blemishes and the color of a bright red apple, complete with a black racing stripe starting at her pointed nose, following down her hood, and ending over her license plate. A shockingly low price was written in white across her windshield and O.B.O. across her driver's side window. Less than 60K miles. Her tires were those ass-kicking chrome jobs so popular for sports cars of her era. They looked mean and huge, a focal point on a car that was meant to go real fast real fast. The body seemed to be melted around them.
I walked around her in circles, taking in the mint exterior and the 'Stingray' emblem displayed boldly just in front of each door. She had a 1976 historic license plate decorating the nose, leading me to believe that '76 was the year she rolled off onto her first road. Thirty-five years ago--ten years before I was even born. My father hadn't yet met my mother or even graduated from college. Her interior was worn and in need of refurbishing from decades of butts sitting in her leather seats. As I stared in at her dusty dashboard and dirty steering wheel (adorned with the crossed double flags of the Corvette), I could envision what she had once looked like. What she could look like again with love and attention.
Her body was in amazing condition for her age and her mileage was impossibly low. I stared at a the asking price scribbled across her windshield. We have the money, a whispery voice said from somewhere deep inside me. Certainly not in any 'Old Corvette Savings Fund,' for I meticulously planned a future for every dollar I made, but we had the money nevertheless. In a house fund.
My husband stood somewhere nearby, grinning at me stupidly and taunting me with phrases such as, "Imagine what it would be like to pull into the driveway in this!" As if all the things I could do with this car, and all the fun I could have in her, hadn't already flown across my mind a million times. He knew this was my dream car, far more than any brand new, shiny sports car could be. This was the experience I always wanted to have but always believed was truly out of my reach.
I gave her another appreciative, longing look before resigning myself to returning to our own car. A car that was nice, that we loved, but was only a car. Something to get us around, to move our things from one place to another, and to get us to work and back. I realized in that moment the true difference between a vehicle and a car like that Corvette. A difference that I'd never really thought of before.
We drove away. Inside our car was quieter than before, lacking the earlier chattiness of an afternoon drive. I stared out the window and day dreamed, the same way I had about becoming a pharmacist or the way I would look in my wedding dress. I thought about the car.
I had learned over my young life to listen to my heart. You see, my heart doesn't speak to me very often, but I know right away when it does. It spoke to me when I met my husband, and for years after that regarding him, as we struggled through years of vast change and growing together. It spoke to me one sunny day on my college campus when it told me to give up my childhood dream of becoming a veterinarian and pursue pharmacy instead. It spoke to me the day I walked across the stage and held in my hand my Doctorate degree for the very first time.
It spoke to me now. As we drove away from that little Corvette I felt as if I had left part of my soul with it. Little did I realize that exactly one week later I would be driving around in it.