And So It Goes…

Parker shows up late and needs a place to stay. Sure. Fine. Here is OK. I tell him yes even though I’m concerned I won’t be able to sleep as well. Then again, I think, I’m so tired already…surely I’ll fall asleep quickly.

Time passes, he snores in little spits and gurgles, quiet enough not to wake himself but loud enough to keep my mind chugging along with the rhythm of his breath. I used to find this so endearing, like the mossy green of his eyes, the resonance of his voice. My, how things change. At 1:00 a.m. I give up and do some homework. At some point, I stumble back into bed and the alarm goes off at 7am just as I am dreaming about a one-eyed dog that gives me deja vous.

And it all would have been alright, really, except for the fact that on only a few hours of sleep, the universe handed me one of the most explosive days in years:

Early in the morning, Mom drives me to Marshall where we pick up the Volvo, get the title notarized, pay the fees, get the new plate, and shake hands with the owners. Mom heads to BigCity, NC for errands and keeping in tune with the area, the previous owners send me off with a wave and handmade mug formed and fired in their own studio in the mountains. It seems like the perfect send off and I hit the road with a smile on my face, the Volvo shifting with ease into the gray, rainy day. The send off is so perfect, in fact, that just three miles down the road I decide to get a car wash to initiate the Volvo into my ownership.

It only takes about thirty seconds under the high intensity hoses for the water to start dripping through the sunroof. At first there is just a threatening trickle, like the ripples that moved in water glasses during the suspenseful scene in Jurassic Park. Then a gush, a surge, and now a flood. The water moves without apology, along the sides of the sunroof, puddling into the seats and splashing into the back. Every muscle in my body begs to get out of the car – water pours in and the body wants to move out – but I am in the middle of a car wash for chrissake, and abandoning ship could be suicidal. I think of Oregon and the rain, my youth, the weeks of rain. I think of my childhood, the bubble baths, the suds, the euphoric splashes of bathwater. I laugh, cuss, pull at my braids, and scootch towards the steering wheel to avoid the sloshing puddle at my butt. I put on my raincoat and wait it out, not daring to look behind me at how the other people in line might be reacting.

Somehow, I recover. The damage is not that bad. I should have known better. A car with a sunroof made in the 1980’s? Who on earth would take THAT through a high-powered car wash. Not I, not anymore, no sir. I borrow rags from the gas station, I borrow paper towels, I gut the whole car and then pull up to the coin-operated vacuum hose. It feels good to have the puddles taken care of and the vacuum sucks up the moisture in the fabric nicely. It also sucks up the fabric on the roof lining, which rips and tears with such velocity that I can’t even squeeze out a good “Holy crap!” before I’ve ripped another hole in the lining. This is how I will surely die, I think. I will die by electrocution as I use a dry vacuum to suck the rotting wet out of my new-to-me-car and before I know it the car is clean and dry but the rain is thundering down and all the floor mats are outside. I vacuum them, curse the weather, the gods, the clouds, the sunroof, and replace everything, then hop in the car and hit the road.

The good news is that the sunroof doesn’t leak at all in the rain. Surely this was a matter of applying too much direct pressure to a precarious situation. I have a dry, hour-long drive to work and there is once again a bounce in my step.

The bounce, it turns out, is very helpful, because as soon as I walk in the coffeehouse doors for work I am on my feet for six hours serving and cleaning and finally mopping without end. It is one of our busiest days to date but life is good, right? And I have a new Volvo, right? And even though I’ve barely slept and life seems to be hurling things at me left and right, I will be ok, right?

I will ok, actually, because I am so smart that I’ve decided to haul today’s coffeehouse trash bags and dirty towels to the campus dumpster in my new Volvo. See, they’re so heavy from the busy day, that it’d be much easier to haul them in the station wagon than over my shoulder all the way across campus. I lock the doors, hoist the bags to the side of the road, and head towards my car to pull over and load up.

Alas, as I sidle in the smooth rolling Volvo to the side of the road there is a bump, then a burst, then a flattening, and yes my friends, I have earned myself another flat tire. I am dead dog tired again, it is dinner time and this is the end of my rope. But alas! Even today I asked the previous owners, “Does the car come with a spare tire?” and they exclaimed, “Oh! Yes! It is a full-sized one!”

So, changing a flat tire. No problem. I’ve done this before and this time I’m on pavement and it’s flat. Perfect weather conditions. Full steam ahead. I lift the spare compartment and hoist the tire out. It flops onto the road in two thumps, one for the tire and one for the hanging flap of rubber that has frayed from the tire, with thing ripples of steal glinting in the sun.

I promptly throw a fit.

I hurl the tire into the trunk. I say every curse word I know in English and the long syllabic one my grandmother taught me in Sicilian. I consider throwing the handmade mug from the previous owners into the pavement and practicing some extreme and violent ritual over a feast of flames.

Instead, I stop throwing things and stop crying and call Dad. “It’s this and this and this and then this and jesushchristonacrutchcanyoubelievethis?” and before I know it Dad is up the mountain with the spare tire from the family Volvo and we are back in business in no time. He follows me home, where I promptly drink two glasses of wine and call my girlfriend.

When the wine is done, I call my parents and say, “What a week. I give UP!”

Simultaneously, they say: “Good!” and then Mom clarifies, “You’ve been pushing too hard against the world and so it’s been pushing you back. Giving up is just what you need to do.”

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