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  • I’d been gone a month. A month!

    As usual, so why does it always come as a surprise?, I found myself out of town in Marin for longer than anticipated or planned. Half of June, half of July.

    At week two I began to feel the pressure to return home to Pismo Beach. My new home, my little garden, my neighbors, all weighed on my mind. Were my neighbors watering? Was it a huge burden for them? Did they resent my being gone so long and leaving them with the tactic responsibility? Ack.

    That’s when the transmission problem surfaced.

    Don’t put another dime into this car, Derik, my long long long time mechanic said.

    This after I’d just spent 300 dollars with him to flush the transmission, change the oil and several other minor but costly upgrades.

    Find another car he said. And you can’t really trade this one in or sell it, knowing what you know.
    With that he stripped his oil reminder tag from the windshield and sent me on my way.

    When I bought the sedan, my children were and had been living with their father – one was already out of the house, the other driving. It wasn’t as if they were ever again going to be little kids in need of transportation. But I hadn’t had the means to buy a nice sedan when they were little and I was divorced. It was an old dream that I finally fulfilled, even if it wasn’t exactly necessary.

    I’d gotten a fabulous buy on a two year old Hyundai XG350L – at that time their largest and most luxury model. Unlike the Jag I’d given to my son rather than trade in, everything on it worked. Heaven. It had leather and every bell and whistle one could imagine along with several I hadn’t thought of.

    Except I no longer needed a sedan or a large car. Plus I was getting rid of a large car.

    When I first brought the Hyundai to Derik for service, he was bemused. What are you doing in a vanilla sedan? He’d asked.

    I’d met him when I bought the old Jag, well... I hadn’t bought it actually – but that’s another story. His business is called JagMan and he promised to service whatever car I bought. So there I was.
    Look, I’d said, everything works. It’s practical. It has all the bells I love without the huge price tag. It makes economic sense.

    He nodded, wiping his hands on a rag. OK, he said.

    It was definitely a smart buy. Cost me almost nothing to maintain and ran like a top. Unlike the Jag which was mechanically great and electrically a disaster.

    But here it was, finally paid off and with a warranty that , inconveniently, was not transferable to the second owner. The ten year, 100k mile powertrain warranty did me absolutely no good.

    Truth was, I’d been thinking about getting another car. Next year, after paying off a lot of debt. Something sporty. A coupe maybe. I’d finally fessed up to the fact that my car was the realization of a dream that no longer played, even at the time I purchased it.

    Timing, as they say, is everything.

    I wanted to go home to Pismo. But the universe had something else in mind. A different car to match my new and different life. A life that more looked like a minorly upgraded adult version of the life I had before marrying.

    Then, I’d lived in a small studio in a ramshackle converted motel and drove a Datsun 280Z. Lemon yellow. I had a cat and had just obtained a real estate sales license. My career was just beginning and I was willing to sacrifice lodging for the opportunity to invest in my business. I didn’t need a man. Or so I thought.

    The irony of my current life is not lost on me. It wasn’t a plan to live alone in a ramshackle studio cottage and drive a sporty car again. The whole thing just developed out of a desire to follow that little voice in my head rather than ignore it any longer. And to be open to life’s opportunities, knockings, lessons, directional signs in ways that I hadn’t for some time. But in ways that I had way long ago.

    What’s happened is that I’ve watched myself go backward in order to go forward. Sort of like backing up in the car to take that turn you missed. Or speeding along the freeway to the next exit, which is miles and miles down the road, because you missed the exit you were going to take.

    I’ve missed a few exits in my day. And taken several side roads unplanned. They’ve all been interesting.

    And now I am being offered what so few of us are: an opportunity to explore some of those missed exits. A reinvention, a look at what might have happened, and is now in its right time happening.

    It’s quite extraordinary, this being open business.

    So there I was, with the specter of buying a car a year ahead of when I thought I would. What sense would it be to buy something other than a sporty car, even if it seemed ahead of schedule and out of budget? If not now, when?

    We know, don’t we, that it’s all just stuff. It matters not in the long/short run of it. What it really is for me is lessons and examples and a physical demonstration of the power of intent and action.
    Apparently, all items on some yet to be understood list of experiences that are here for me to discover.

    OK – so I started looking. Desperate to get back home and frankly a little pissed that I was stuck in my friend’s lovely lovely home. My long-time friend, former lover, three-second husband, estranged too many times to count...person. We had formed a miraculous truce. By accident. By virtue of my needing a place to stay while being north to work and a girlfriend not having space when I needed it.

    Yet another lesson and experience that was frankly forced upon me and for which I am so grateful. The bad blood between us was a complete waste of time and by being in such close proximity with absolutely no expectations on either side, we were able to see the best parts of each other and for once really – appreciate and be grateful. Both of us. But it wouldn’t have happened as fully if I’d only stayed a couple of weeks. If I hadn’t packed several times to leave... only to have circumstances pop up that required a slow and gentle unpacking.

    In the midst of it all, it made no sense. Just one week home and so many puzzle pieces have fallen into place.

    The car I bought? It's built on the chassis of the Nissan 370G - which I didn't know when I started looking at them. The 370G? It replaces the Datsun 280z that I drove as a kid, as the sports car for Nissan/formerly Datsun. To me, this was stunning news.

    It feels as though I’m being picked clean. Bone whiteningly clean. Of a series of former selves, of masks and cobwebs and fragments picked up on side roads or while sitting long and confused in places both barren and wild. Being dropped from the sky with atmospheric friction peeling layers and armor and shields to reveal the structure that has always been there.

    It has wings. They have been laden, they have been hidden, they are there. Still. They keep me from hitting the ground. A puff of wind, an up draft, a chill blowing... they all carry me. The view – indescribable.

    Much cannot be seen.

    But what can be, fills me with wonder.
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