I’m testing my patience by writing a post from home with our dial up connection.  I have been posting from work, but today I actually had to get real work done. 

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about driving and cars.  It will be 11 years this month since I got my driver’s license.  I turned 16 in February, but I waited until July to take the test for several reasons.  First, I got into my very first car accident about three months before my birthday.  I was really shaken by  it.  The accident wasn’t serious and no one was hurt but I was still scared.  Second, my parents didn’t have a car that they were willing to let me drive.  The car that I was supposed to have had been hijacked by my aunt and uncle and I didn’t get it until late June.  Finally, I didn’t really need a car.  My best friends were old enough to drive and they were more than happy to cart my sorry butt around.

 My first car was a 1986 Chevy Celebrity (affectionately nicknamed the Beemer) that my parents bought from my grandma after my grandpa passed away.  They had bought it new and not two weeks after they got it my grandpa burnt a hole in the driver’s seat with a cigarette.  Grandma was livid!  It was a creamy yellow with beige interior and velour seats.  I loved that car.  It was so good to me.  The only major problem that I had was a tendency to leave the lights on and kill the battery or lock my keys inside.  I also had the brakes go out on me driving home from school once but I just turned around, called my dad and he came and drove it home.  Then there was the deer – that ran into me!  Fortunately the car wasn’t too damaged. 

The one story that always comes up in regards to this car involves me, my best friend M and our friend D.  We were headed to a movie in a relatively unfamiliar town.  It was the dead of winter.  When trying to get to the movie theater I saw what I thought was a road –   large piles of snow on either side of a packed down path.  It turned out that it wasn’t a road at all.  I had driven us into a snowmobile trail!  I tried to get us out but ended up just digging us deeper into the snow.  We were hemming and hawing about what to do (this was obviously in the time before cell phones) when a guy about our age in a huge truck stopped to check on us.  His name was Sparky.  I’m not kidding.

So Spraky grabbed a chain, hooked it under the car and pulled me out.  We were so grateful that we didn’t have to call anyone for help that we failed to notice he’d almost torn my bumper completely off until we left the movie.  The next morning Big Daddy looked at the car and asked me what happened.  I was embarrassed and a little worried he’d be angry so I told him I wasn’t sure.  It just looked like that when we came out of the movie.  Big Daddy was not to be fooled.  He said, “That’s a nice story.  Now tell me what really happened.”  So I did.  BD wasn’t upset.  He just said to never let anyone but him or trained professional under my car again. 

The best part of this story is that a little while after I told him, M stopped by.  Big Daddy asked her the same question and she had exactly the same response.  He told her that she didn’t have to lie because he’d already shaken me down.

This time of year always reminds me of the long drives my friends and I would take around a neighboring town.  It was the best kind of fun and freedom.  If I could go back to any point of high school and relive it my choice would definitely be one of those nights.  We’d just drive around for hours.  We said it was to find boys and we did on occasion but it was really more about bonding with each other than anything else.

When I left for college I couldn’t have a car.  I entrusted my mom and dad with care of the Beemer.  When I would come home to visit one of the first things I would do would be grab the keys and go for a nice long drive.  I even made a few trips home just so I could drive and clear my head.  It was my form of escape.

Unfortunately the Beemer couldn’t last forever.  I really wore it out the summer between freshman and sophomore year by driving it between my two jobs in opposite directions of my hometown.  It was donated to charity and I was carless.  My junior year of college came with a campus parking permit.  My parents helped me out by buying me a Ford Probe.  I pity people that I see driving this particular car.  I hated it and it’s automatic seatbelts.  I couldn’t complain too much because I didn’t pay for it, but it was terrible.  It did afford the freedom to go off campus at will and this was the car I really learned to parallel park in.  It’s also the car that lost it’s catalytic converter on I-94 but I didn’t stop to get it because I was too mortified.  I made my first trip to see TTO in South Dakota in that car as well. 

After graduation we traded the Probe for a Chevy Corsica.  I don’t really remember much about that car because I didn’t drive it for long.  It ended up being Alice’s first car.  After a few months in the working world I went with my dad to the Saturn dealership and bought my very first “new” car.  I took out a loan from the Credit Union and brought home a 2000 Pontiac Sunfire.  I loved that car.  Not in the same way that I loved the Beemer but it does hold a special place. 

The Sunfire was my commuting car.  I drove it the 45 minutes from home to work and back again.  It was the car I sat in and screamed with frustration over jobs and bosses.  It was the car that made the most trips out to South Dakota.  It was the car that was parked in the garage of my first house.  It was the car that took Gus to his first dog park.  Then I got it stuck in (yet another) snowbank.  Another good Samaritan helped me out.  TTO decided it was time to trade in the Sunfire for a truck (for him!).  I ended up with TTO’s old car.  I won’t say much about that because it never felt like mine.

Last December we decided it was time for a new vehicle.  We did a lot of research – well TTO did.  He’s the research king!  We knew we wanted a smaller SUV with good mileage.  I was hoping for heated seats.  After some test drives we decided on the new Honda CR-V.  We got a decent deal on it, but it still feels like more car than I deserve to have.  Leather, sunroof, heated seats.  It’s amazing.  I’m really lucky.  However?  I’ve started to hate driving.  Driving used to be my refuge and now I can’t stand it.

 I commute to work on two fairly busy highways.  Last year I started going to work and coming home earlier to avoid traffic.  It helped for a while.  Now it sucks again.  What should be about a 25 minute drive takes over 40.  I didn’t mind the 45 minute drive that I used to make because I was actually moving the entire time.  Now I just sit.  And wait.  Which I am not very good at.  I know there are much worse commutes out there.  It just drives me nuts that almost two hours of my day are taken up with traffic.  Urgh.  Maybe I’m just not patient enough.  Maybe I need to find a new job closer to home.   I don’t know.   I just want my love of the road back.  I don’t even care how much gas costs.

TTO is peacefully tucked away in bed and I’m ready to join him.  He’s been putting in long hard hours this week.  I won’t get into what he does, but the hours are long and the work is fairly dangerous – this week it involves dynamite.  My dad works at the same place.  I try not to think about what they do there and what could potentially happen.  TTO and Big Daddy are two of the most important people to me.  I would never sleep again if I knew too many more details of their job. 

 I feel bad because I didn’t spend much time with TTO tonight.  Not long after he got home I left for my SECOND run of the week.  I went last night and took Gus with me.  It wasn’t awful, but it wasn’t terribly successful either.  Tonight was much better.  I ran more than I thought I would.

I showed this blog to Big Daddy last night and he just chuckled at me.  He asked if anyone out there could read it.  I told him yes, probably, but who would?  He laughed again.  I asked him what he thought.  He said he thinks I have too much time on my hands.  If he only knew.

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