My First Car

Inspiration: Ragtag Daily Prompt – Memory

 

My First Car
(A slant six engine will last forever!)

 

Fresh out of college in 1976, I was hot on a search for the perfect car.
My first car.

The budget: under $4000.

The dream: a shiny, new, reliable, 4-door ORANGE set of wheels (this was the ‘70s after all). It needed to hold all my stuff; which remarkably – back then – fit completely inside a car.

I found just what I wanted at a Plymouth dealership in Nanuet, NY one blistering June day.

A bright orange Volaré complete with its famous slant six engine, real vinyl seats and AM/FM radio. It practically had my name on it. And it was under budget.

Sold!

Picture2

I signed up for a “how to take care of your car” class. I learned how to change the air filter, spark plugs and fuses. I waxed it until it practically glowed, even in the dark. It was easy to locate in a parking lot.

My Volaré lasted 12 years and over 106,000 miles. It took me to my first hospital job. From the church to my wedding reception. To Chicago for my college roommate’s wedding. Home from the hospital with my newborn daughter safely secured in her first car seat.

I even won a free sunroof in a radio contest in 1986.

In 1988 it was time for a new car. The evils of rust were starting to win the battle. After I negotiated a fair price on a Corsica at the local Chevy dealership, the salesman mentioned that I could probably get $400 wholesale for my Volaré. He also mentioned the slant six engine.

Good idea!

The next day I returned to the dealership. Late afternoon, around 4pm. My son and 6 year old daughter came with me. She waited patiently in the showroom with a book. My 6-month-old son, balanced on my left hip, accompanied me to the car lot to meet with the salesman…

Who no longer thought $400 was fair.

He called for the sales manager to join us.

Sales Mgr: I’ll give you $100 towards the new car.

Me: It has a slant six engine. Those last forever! Please take it for a drive! I was told it’s worth $400.

The manager drove it around the lot.

Mgr: Okay, $200. Look at the mileage!

Me: Maybe I don’t need a new car after all. This one runs great. It even has a sunroof.

Manager walked around it again. Salesman stood behind him.
Mgr: Alright…$300

At this point my son was getting more and more squirmy. He looked straight at the manager. And blew really loud raspberries.

Me: See! We both know this is a great car!

The salesman and manager went inside to talk to The Senior Manager. They both came out and walked around the car again. Went back inside the showroom. My son and I followed.

The sales manager finally returned…to where I waited with 2 hungry and cranky children. He shook his head, looked at me…okay $400.

Me: You’ve got yourself a deal!

As I was signing the paperwork, I heard a voice call my name. It was the Senior Manager sitting behind his big elevated-on-a-riser desk. In the middle of the showroom.  I looked in his direction…as he continued…

“Hey! Anytime you need a job, just call.”

Diaries Revisited – 2018

diaries line up

My writing life started with diaries – the kind with the tiny keys. Keys implying a privacy that wasn’t actually possible. But which gave a 9 year old a sense of importance. Tucking away private thoughts in a safe space. A comforting fantasy. Trusting that the key really worked.

As I got older, diaries (keys long gone) were followed by small spiral lined notebooks (written with an orange Flair pen – this was, after all, the ’70’s). Next… black hardcover “blank books.” And then back to small spiral notebooks and thick journals. I actually preferred the printed lines to guide my sometimes erratic handwriting; angled in anger or loopy with emotion. I went through a calligraphy stage in college and carefully inked my thoughts with spaced precision. An art form! And since I was the sister who was NOT the artist, I felt mighty proud about that.

My good friend Debbie gave me a new 8 1/2″ x 11″ black blank book when we were both 20 and about to start sharing an apartment – a first for both of us. We would finish up our last 1 & 1/2 years of college together.

She filled the first page:

Here is the book you wanted. It means so much to have a book like this…to write down thoughts, feelings….watch how you grow, how your feelings change and how much more aware you become when you read back through it… 

The second and third pages contained Pink Floyd lyrics from “Dark Side of the Moon.”

Breathe, breathe, in the air…Don’t be afraid to care…Leave, but don’t leave me…Look around and choose your own ground…. 

I followed Debbie’s directions and kept filling that journal off and on for almost 18 years. (It didn’t come with a key. I wonder if it should have.) I was as open with my written words at 20 and 25 and 30 as I was at 9 and 10. Kind of shocking really. And now sometimes embarrassing – and painful – to see my heart splayed open on the page over and over, year after year.

Entries became sporadic and eventually just covered major life events – or the night before major life events – as I pondered their significance. Marriage. Career. Parenthood. Family dramas. Joy. Grief. Loss. I started and stopped various notebooks, journals and blank books. A brand new one always a hard-to-resist invitation to begin again. Maybe it was the fresh, smooth paper & its possibilities…like getting new notebook paper, pens and pencils for the start of school each September.

At the ripe old age of 27 – about 2 weeks before the birth of my first child I wrote…

It seems that the older I get, the faster life goes by…We Are Going To Be Parents!!…It will probably be the most important thing we do….”   

The next entry (in that journal) was 10 years later when I had a weekend away by myself.  By then I had a second child and a consulting job. I was still in my thirties. The 4 page summary began with…

Motherhood has changed my life more than anything else before it. 

And ended with…

After all these years I’m finally starting to acknowledge that there’s another side of me that’s been buried – perhaps a more creative side – I’m not sure…”   

Looking back, I was spot-on about the motherhood thing.

…I also have several well worn notebooks filled with stories of all the amazing, funny, and truly one of a kind things my 2 children ever said or did.

Truly like no other kid ever in the history of the world. Obviously. For example: How many 8 year old boys do you know who can make an earring out of a Cheerio?  And whose mother wrote a story about it?

I couldn’t help myself. It was such fun….