Months before my 65th birthday in December, I gave my husband, John, a warning. I planned to buy a car I wanted. Not one that got me from here to there. Not one purchased for the gas mileage. For my 65th, I was going to splurge. I wanted a car that would make me grin.
One of our friends, Ken, sells cars. One day as we all sat around at Starbucks, John informed him I was going to buy a car. And the questions began. “What kind? What color? What price?” But I poked a hole in Ken’s bubble.
“I’m not ready to buy yet. Give me a few months to get some bills paid off and then I’ll start looking in the fall” I told him.
He heard me.
The next time John began discussing the kind of car I wanted, Ken gave me a smile as he told him, “I’ll wait until she says she is ready”.
Ken had me right where he wanted me.
A few months before my intended goal of beginning my search, I happened by Ken’s dealership to get an idea of what was available. I wandered through the cars. I test drove one. It didn’t make me grin. I tried another. No grinning.
But Ken had listened to me when I said what I wanted. He ushered me to a car and said, “I think this one is what you are looking for.”
I grinned as I drove away from the lot. More grinning as I returned.
The first of June is our anniversary. John and I were going out to dinner that evening. Ken suggested I test drive the car to the restaurant to meet him.
It was a few more months before I planned to buy. I was just looking. I have never liked shopping and truly am not an impulse buyer. But there was all that grinning.
To make our anniversary special, John had plans to go away that weekend with a motorcycle group. As he held my hand at dinner, he mentioned all the grinning.
“Why don’t you call Ken and tell him to start the paperwork?”
My husband left town for the weekend and I bought a car. I opened the windows and the roof. I turned the XM radio to a jazz station. I drove south into Oregon. I drove north, back through our town and past the city limits. It grew dark. But I couldn’t just go home.
I drove to Starbucks and sat with the yuppies. I don’t even drink coffee. But that car sure looked good in the parking lot. The grin seemed permanent.
I needed to drive more than just a few hours. So plans were put in motion for me to take a “road trip”. With a daughter in Pasadena, CA and one in Salem, OR we looked for a central place to meet. Clear Lake, CA was the chosen spot.
On a beautiful, clear June morning I headed out…with a “non-stop” grin. Turning south at Biggs Junction in Oregon, I transitioned from freeway to two-lane highway. I had been on this road before. It is winding, tree-lined, and hilly. That makes it very difficult to pass the big logging trucks. I traveled behind a truck for miles. Finally I could see a straight stretch of road ahead. As I pulled out to pass, I pressed on the accelerator.
There was no struggling to get by. As I flew by the truck I exclaimed out loud to myself, “Oh, wow. I could get used to this”.
Passing was no problem any more. More grinning.
The miles flew by. The sky was blue. Mt. Shasta was beautiful. The summer weather totally cooperated as I continued my solo journey. 700 miles later, I arrived at my destination. As I showed my new purchase to my daughters, I was still grinning.
After a week and another 700 miles, I returned home.
Just as my husband loves to hop on the motorcycle and take a “ride”, I truly enjoy getting behind the steering wheel and taking little drives…of 200 or 300 miles. When I used to ride behind John on the bike, he would tell me, “Just be one with the bike”.
I’ve discovered I like it much better to be “one with my car”. I plan to put that theory to the test a lot through the long summer days. When the snow flies, I can pull out my memories and grin again.
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