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  • "A man is not only happy but wise also, if he is trying, during his lifetime, to be the sort of man he wants to be found at his death.” -Thomas à Kempis

    Ditto for women.

    I think about this alot. About how the sort of person, the sort of life I am leading will affect the sort of very last moment I will have in this world, the one I hope for - the second before I die, when I am fully aware that this is it, the end - when I say (and think and feel) "Damn, this was good. All good."

    We got a phonecall from the previous owner of our Jeep Grand Wagoneer - the guy who wanted, then didn't want, then ultimately did sell us his beloved vintage car on Christmas Day. He asked if we'd sell it back to him, at a profit. A hefty profit. It had been eating away at him for six months - though he knew it was ridiculous, his affection for this vehicle was such that he desperately wanted, needed it back if at all possible.

    We pondered this for a couple of days then said yes, sure, why not? We'd bought it ourselves out of sentimentality, having had one in the past when the kids were small. After 6 months of ownership we found that although it was as cool as we remembered, it did not really serve any current needs. It guzzled gas, was a little unreliable, drove like a tank. I was getting annoyed with it, frankly.

    We negotiated a price with Joe and delivered it to him early on a Saturday morning. He had a wad of cash ready for us, and had pulled out a blown up, framed 12"x24" photograph of he and his wife standing in front of the Jeep on their wedding day. I looked at him and nodded, having suddenly understood - this was not just about the car, no, not at all. I was happy for him to have it back.

    We shook hands, laughed and left, began discussions about our next car purchase on the way home.

    Since I was a teen I've wanted a BMW. I love everything about it - the crisp round blue and white logo, the lines of the older models (before all cars started to look the same, Japanese...) And best of all, the performance. Nothing touches German engineering to my mind. From the intuitive features of the interior to the way they handle on the road (I drive, ahem, a bit fast.) Of course it felt extravagant, out of reach. Maybe a little embarassing too. Shouldn't I be a better person? Desire to drive a Prius? Why not buy another trusty Subaru?

    I figured that one day, when our boys are grown, when college is paid for, one day. When I can afford it, when I deserve it, when I am... a grown-up.

    Well, the realities of being a grown-up have smacked us about the heads a bit lately. Another friend just died last weekend far too young, a mere 44 years old, of breast cancer. Others we know have been diagnosed with MS, leukemia and on the perimeter, a smattering of heart attacks. It makes one question this concept of "one day." Just how many days might I, we, have left? What exactly are we waiting for?

    So two weeks later, on another early Saturday morning, my husband called me outside, coffee in hand, to take a look at something. I put on my flip flops, oblivious, and wandered out the door. To my total surprise, there sat this gorgeous piece of german engineering parked in the driveway. My dream beemer. The right color (dark blue exterior, light tan interior), the right shape (not new, a 2004) and a rag top to boot. As if reading my mind, my husband quickly answered my gasp:

    "It really wasn't expensive at all. Just a bit more than we got for the Jeep. Nothing to feel guilty about!"

    We drove around in it all day, beaming. The top down despite it being 100 degrees outside. That night we were going to party that required us to dress up, something we rarely do outside of work events. It was a "Prom Night" gig for a friend turning 40. She had organized this party for herself that I had thought ridiculous - all that calling attention to oneself, revelling in the past, a DJ and 80s dance music for God's sake! I was convinced it'd be awful.

    As I came out of the house all dolled up, ready to go to the party, Trev called me over to the car. "Wait, I want to take a picture of my hot wife in her hot car. Please. I know you hate this but please, just do it for me."

    I hesitated, instantly remembering taking prom pictures - standing demurely in the backard, feeling ridiculous, while my mom said "Smile!" I wanted it to be over then, as quickly as possible. It was a weird feeling to be that dressed up I remember, kind of like pretending to be a grown-up. Yet once a decade or so I have looked at those pictures and smiled. I'm glad to have them. This was really no different, was it?

    "OK" I said. "But be quick about it."

    A day later I looked at the photo and laughed - it's not a smile, but a smirk. The "OK, are we done now?" look.

    The party wound up being being fabulous, completely invigorating. I danced until my feet were on fire, sang until I was croakingly hoarse. I was so proud to be at the side of my handsome husband and elated the following morning when he reminded me upon waking up - tangled in sheets, racoon eyed and wild haired - "you know, I still really do think you are completely hot."

    "You should" I answered cockily. "We just had a hell of a lot more fun on our Prom Night than I ever did with those boys in highschool." He smiled and referenced that all day long, proud of the alpha male status I had made clear he occupies in my heart and mind, past and present and with any hope at all, forevermore. Till that last living second when I might remember this Prom Night and my dream car, and think "damn we've had fun, such great fun."

    Tee hee hee, vroom, vroom. I am loving being a grown-up.
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