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My Birthday Gift
by Grant Palma
11/21/06
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The stars glisten in a bluish grey sky like Christmas lights in sea water. The splendor of the moment masks all that I am in numb thoughtlessness. I pull my plaid driving cap down tight and button my tattered green jacket while glancing around the lonely hillside in the moonlight. The sensation of feeling alone never keeps one from looking and hoping for company. Despite my desire for the presence of another human, I accept the chilly night. This is a routine that has lasted for many years. I once considered life alone as terrible as riding a motorbike in strong winds, but life continues somehow. Leaning against my grey Alfa Romeo coupe, I lift my rugged coffee thermos to my mouth slowly with aching hands and draw on the warmth of the dark coffee.
If I did things my way, I would drive for miles and miles until I ran out of desire to keep the gas pedal pinned to the floor. Despite myself, I have learned not to think that way. Running away will not solve anything; I always tell myself I must stay and work it out somehow. That is what I was taught as a kid and relearned as a man. I say bills and taxes kept me here, but at my age, the desire to run is easy to fight back. It is easy to tell yourself that this is a dream when it feels like hell.
Today is my fiftieth birthday. I celebrated with my employee at the garage over a six pack of beer after we closed down for the night. I never drink, but he insisted. It was easy to agree since he is the only person who remembered. I thought that turning wrenches on fancy cars would make money and friends, but it only gave me my own garage, a big empty house, and blisters. I traded the hope of a family for the dream of wealth. The cold, painful reality is I cannot trade back.
Perhaps the lack of hope is something I made myself believe. The green of money and the red of Italian cars clouded my vision and kept me bent under work and debt. Maybe there is something else outside of this white collar misery. A faint possibility of another existence for me now could be out there in a world without slavery to payments. The more money I make only equals the loneliness I get. I pass lit homes of happy faces enjoying the benefits of work while I drive to the routine that is killing me like slow poison.
The coffee thermos falls and spills on my pantsí leg and the tire of my Alfa Romeo, landing next to my keys as both tired hands let go like factory workers on strike. I will not go on like this. I am too old to start over, but too dead to not do something. I miss family and the friends who once remembered my birthday, but relationships left alone slowly wither away. With a painful tear in my eye, I open the old door of the car and ease my aching bones into the backseat. I will sit here until the answers come. I will watch the sun rise and fall, let the garage close, and let life go by. I will sleep and dream. I will dream a new life for myself.


If you died today, are you absolutely certain that you would go to heaven? You can be! TRUST JESUS NOW

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