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2017 January

Farewell, Green Car!

IMG_2351As we were finalizing the steps of our move (five days away, eek!), Eric and I realized that we wouldn’t really have any more need or space for our second car. It was costing us a pretty penny to insure it, and we’d have to pay another chunk of change to have it moved (or impose so terribly on one of our parents to drive it up to Seattle for us. Four days of driving with no cruise control, whee!) As we thought it through, we reached a bittersweet decision: it was time to bid our green chariot farewell.

IMG_3073Why was it such a big deal? I bought this little green Honda when I was 16, brand new, from the dealership, mostly because I couldn’t find a decent and reliable used car and was likely traumatized by the woes my brother suffered in dealing with the used Jeep he had bought the year before. I went in with my dad and haggled the good haggle. I paid my $268.40 every month for four years, first out of my Wild Oats paycheck, then from my Oberlin library/tutoring/assistant teaching paychecks. I paid her off just at the start of my senior year. And after that, I worried much less about spilling my coffee.

IMG_3074She’s a 1999 Honda Civic. It’s now 2017. And I am 34. This car has carried me through over half my life. Every single one of her 85,000 miles was put on her by me, or some member of my traveling circus. When we were expecting Micah in 2014, we knew a two-door wasn’t going to be the best option for heavy carseats, so we bought our 2011 Accord. We just didn’t drive the green car very much at all after that–to airports, maybe, or on the rare occasion when we both needed to be somewhere at the same time. Seattle has much better public transit, and we now live in the age of Uber and Lyft for those situations. So it was time to say goodbye.

I might not have thought about writing a post like this, except that my dad just wrote one on the 20th anniversary of his white Miata. I loved reading about all the places that sweet little car had taken him. And I wanted to do the same for my little green car. I am not a person who cares too much about things (I suspect that is true for most of us), except in that they are perfect little repositories of memory. This car holds so very many.

DSCN0006She doesn’t have many miles for her seventeen years because I didn’t drive her much on a daily basis, except during her first year, when I drove her to White Station High School every morning, music blaring, protein smoothie in my cupholder (main ingredient: ice cream. Lolololol.) She stayed home during my first year at Oberlin, but I drove her up my sophomore year, the first of many sojourns across the 678 miles from my driveway in Memphis to campus. By the time I graduated, I had this trip whittled down to 10.5 hours, with only one stop. I know, I’m a savage. I came home every summer, most spring and fall breaks, and several Thanksgivings, including one in which I came home two days early, hid my car on a side street, and then hid in the closet to surprise my mom (my dad and I were good co-conspirators).

DSCN0980After I graduated Oberlin and came back from a summer in Russia, I loaded up the car and drove out to Berkeley for grad school, stopping along the way to pick up my brother in Oklahoma City (where he had arrived from Austin after a harrowing Greyhound bus ride. Thanks, brother!) We had almost zero dollars, but lots and lots of fun. In Berkeley I took the little green car across the bridge to San Francisco and up to Point Reyes, and on the weekends we explored all the little neighborhoods of the East Bay.

DSCN0241During my first summer in Berkeley, my brother came to stay with me while he worked at an architecture firm in the city. My brother is a very good person to have around if you like adventures. We went to visit a friend in Monterey. Then he suggested that we drive up the coast to see the pygmy cypresses near Fort Bragg, stopping along the way in Mendocino, where, to my great chagrin, my brother made me listen to the Sir Douglas Quartet’s “Mendocino,” which is, objectively, the worst song in the world (sorry, brother.) He soon redeemed himself. One day I came home from my French class, and he said, “Hey! Let’s drive up to Vancouver!” And we did! Straight up the 5 through California, Oregon, and Washington, stopping on the way home in Bend and Crater Lake, which is one the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and where we had a summer snowball fight. Good times!

Summer 2007 011The little green car ferried me all around the Bay area for seven years, during which time I finally got her California plates. Did you know that it is illegal to have a car in the state of California for more than 30 days without getting California plates? Did you know that it’s kind of complicated to change a car title (in my dad’s name, since I was only 16 when I bought it) across states? Whew, I was glad to get that resolved. After two years. Ha!

Thanksgiving 2009 016-001The green car drove me down to LA to visit my friend Steve, but most of her trips were local. My brother moved first to Oakland, then to San Francisco, and I’d pop over to see him. And then, happiest of happies, I met Eric. I drove over to see him as often as I could, and we took all manner of local trips: Napa, Sonoma, Half Moon Bay. We also made the HARROWING drive up to Sea Ranch to spend Thanksgiving with my family several times.

Summer 2011 259-001After we got married, we drove our little green car down to Pasadena, and then to Idyllwild, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and the beach. And then…our family of two grew to three, and green car’s driving days were mostly over. I hope she has many more with her new owner.

IMG_2353I didn’t cry when we sold her to Carmax (even though maybe I should have, given the low offer!), except at this one little moment. My whole family had been so sweet about it, including Eric, who was asking me, as we waited to sign some papers, how I was feeling. I turned to him and said, “You know, I was just thinking about who I was when I bought that car–what I imagined my life would be like, where I imagined my life would take me. And I realized that I have everything I could ever have hoped for.” It’s so true. And I’m so grateful. Farewell, green car!

My One Little Word for 2017: New

IMG_8150 (1)My word for 2017 came to me several months ago, and, truthfully, I am not sure there could be any other word for this year. Because…

We are moving! To Seattle! (In a week: aaahhh!) Most of 2016 was spent waiting to hear about a job for Eric, so we knew that this was a possibility. We are excited for many new adventures and for this great job, but also, of course, heartbroken to be leaving our dear friends here. (We’re planning those quarterly visits already!)

New means so many things for us this year: new city, new job, new house, new friends (we hope!), new school, new parish, new rhythms and routines, new places to explore. We are buying a house (!! I don’t think I can say we bought it until we close!), so we will be new homeowners. We are thrilled to have our own space, but maybe most thrilled to have a yard for Micah to run and play in.

I think “new” stretches its branches in lots of different directions–while we are excited to get settled in our new home, I am sure there are many things that will be difficult, and we’ll need to remind ourselves, “Hey, it’s ok. This is all new.” And, of course, it’s similar to my word for last year, “grow,” in that I am (always) hoping to learn and experience new things. I’m hoping to create some new (good!) habits. Including blogging more! (But, realistically, probably not until February or so, when some of the moving dust has settled). It’s a spiritual word for me too, reminding me of two comforting statements that I love very much, that His mercies are new every morning, and that He makes all things new. I hope this word will be a reminder of that comfort to me, and a reminder that I can make a new start every morning, or even every minute.

I always like to look up the definitions of my word, to hold in my mind as the year goes by. I especially like “never existing before, appearing for the first time,” “known or discovered for the first time,” “recently grown or made; fresh,” “beginning again, making a fresh start,” and “refreshed in spirits.” What better word for the new year and for new beginnings?

So, we’ll see where this word takes me! Do you have a word or phrase for 2017? Do tell!

In Praise of Intuition

IMG_5410Hello from Peet’s, my little caffeinated hideaway, blessedly only two blocks away from our apartment. The babysitter is with Micah, and I fought the urge to just fall asleep in the car (lolz) and came here instead for an Earl Grey fortification. Every time I try to log in to my blog, I have forgotten my password. Ha! Probably as good an indication as any of how frequently I get to it.

This is one of my favorite times of year–not just for the family and festivity and beautiful liturgies, but for the opportunity to look back and look forward, doing old Janus proud. This year I saw Susannah Conway’s free workbook Unravel Your Year mentioned somewhere, and I am working through it little by little. It has really been an amazing exercise, and definitely one I think I’ll want to do every year. So far I am still on the 2016 part, but it has been encouraging and comforting and surprising all at once.

To wit: I sat down to answer the question about my word for the past year and was all geared up to reflect on how my word was “savor,” and that it was a good word for living in the moment instead of having a big goal or plan, and then…I looked it up and realized that “savor” was my word for 2015! Ha! My word for 2016 was actually “grow,” which has a similar gradual sort of feel and was very good for this toddler-mom year.

In looking back through the year and actually trying to remember it (more lolz here), I was proud to see that in some ways I really have grown. Not in all ways, and I will have more growing to do for the rest of my life (I most sincerely hope), but I had a happy sense of accomplishment in an area that is sometimes challenging, but not impossible, to measure.

I scrolled through my blog posts from 2016 (not many!), and I found this post about my plans and goals for 2016. I had completely and utterly forgotten that I had written it. And yet…I actually did do those things I hoped to do. It was definitely one of those chills-down-your-spine moments, as I realized that even though I have given those goals (and my word, apparently) exactly zero attention this past year, I still somehow managed to live them out. Not perfectly, no. I did not read a book in Russian! (Maybe I should start with some comforting stories? Pushkin Book Club, anyone? I have an odd urge to reread Povesti Belkina!) But I did so much. And I am so entirely grateful for whatever intuition it was that led me to and through the things I did and learned this past year. It reminded me just a tiny bit of the feeling you have when you do something you did not think you could do, and then when you actually do it, you realize that that ability was actually in you all along. It is a powerful and humbling feeling.

So here I am again at the beginning of a new year, which will be very new indeed. I feel about as unprepared for it as I did not remember feeling last year (but my blog post reminded me!) And so I am not shaken by that unprepared feeling. I will come around to it, I am sure, sometime in February or so. As we journey through these first few weeks of the year, some ideas and goals will find me, and I’ll jot them down here. If nothing else, this whole experience has been such an encouragement to do that, to get words on paper, or on a screen, in this case.

I am excited for this year. I want to write (and am planning to write) about my word for 2017, what I hope it will hold, and millions of other little things too. The best thing I can do, I think, is to try to establish a habit. So here I am getting started, reminding myself of the pleasure of the staccato of computer keys. It’s good to be back. But my tea is gone, and it’s time to head to dinner with my Orhan Pamuk novel (the height of luxury!) Happy, happy new year to you all! I’ll be back soon.

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