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Monday, December 30, 2013

Can’t wait ‘til 2018

‘Twas seven nights before Christmas and my 2000 Ford Focus wouldn’t start. I thought it must be her time to go at 13; nevertheless, I called for help to see if she could still be revived. Still dead. I tried not to cry because I couldn’t use her again (or perhaps because I’d be spending on car rental instead of shopping during Boxing Week). I felt some kind of loss although I had always thought of myself as having no attachment to material things—ready to uproot and go on an adventure anytime I want to.

What was I feeling when I cleared her of all my personal stuff? Hanging from the rear view mirror was a colourful ornamental cross made of beads given by a friend with ADHD, and a crocheted angel given by another dear friend. In the glove compartment were sunglasses and screwdrivers. In the back were summer hats, and cat and bear stuffies for the viewing pleasure of the kids in the cars behind me. (I always imagined them saying, “Awww, so cute!”) In the trunk were a heated electric blanket, a tripod, a monopod, a battery starter and flashlight, a warm blanket, coolant, windshield wiper fluid, two shovels, and the library book I had been looking for! Inside were cookies, crackers, water, and arnis (a stick used in traditional Philippine martial arts) for self-defence. I looked at the interior and recalled how I kept the upholstery looking like new by protecting it with sheets (very Filipino, eh?). I looked at the body and recalled how I did all the touch-ups, especially after a key was run over it for a good scratch while parked at Walmart in North Carolina. It was just my first weekend with “Silver Bullet,” as she was called by her second owner who went back to South America. (She must have been speeding.) What a waste, I thought. Such a beautiful and strong body with a spacious interior, and countless new parts that I wanted to last until 2018. Being a thrifty woman, I just wanted her to be my first and last car in North America.

The flatbed truck came and I paid its young driver. She deserved the service deluxe after taking me to the northern states, across the Midwest, and around Alberta for seven years. I watched while she was carefully loaded onto the truck and again tried not to cry, and then waved at the driver after he gave me the OK sign. I let out a deep heavy sigh as I got back into the house. “It’s just a car! It can be replaced,” I told myself. What was the matter though? I guess when a woman doesn’t have anyone but herself and a car that takes her wherever she pleases, the car becomes her partner—a silent companion and witness to her aloneness (not loneliness though) and to her success in going places. Yes, indeed. My Ford Focus has been very much a part of everything about me these seven years: exploring and getting some education in North Carolina and New York, giving people a free ride, seeing old friends and relatives I hadn’t seen for decades, taking the route of Lewis and Clark and imagining what it was like during their time, and finding new homes and friends. Of course, she’s been part of all my misadventures, too, such as getting lost in New Jersey, driving in a severe thunderstorm in Virginia, getting stranded midway between Lethbridge and Calgary in the middle of a chilly moonlit night, getting locked out one winter night, and having a lot of near mishaps and traffic violation tickets (Ouch!). Well, I guess I just have to console myself with the thought that I have good photographs and memories to keep,

and to wish that others may find her whole body or parts of her useful as they see her now sitting beautifully in a scrap yard. Jamison29/12/2013

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