Yes, that’s right. We’re ready to sign it over. It can mean lots of things, but, in this case, it refers to my car – an elderly-and-then-some 1998 Subaru Outback. Oh, and it also means our almost-old-enough-to-qualify-as-an-antique Dodge Ram ¾ ton truck, Gus.
My Outback had just over 288,000 miles on it when a control arm snapped Tuesday night. Oh, did I mention that it happened at about 55mph, on an interstate? Or that the resultant “equal and opposite reaction” sent us skidding across all three lines of the highway before I was able to get enough control through steering into the skid and gradually braking?
I just about wrestled that car back across the three lanes and then as far off the shoulder as I could get us. The control arm was dragging and scraping the entire way.
Did I mention that “us”, in this case, was me and my not-quite-sixteen year old son?
He was impressed at my calm, and my getting the car off the road. He is an even-tempered, safety-conscious, level-headed kind of young man – but this made an impression on him, I think, that no amount of lecturing or studying the driver’s manual could. It was sudden, unexpected, completely taking over the evening.
There were no other cars on our stretch of interstate throughout the trip over and back. Given that we were passed by at least twenty semis once we got to the side of the road – whether it was divine intervention, or just a matter of extraordinarily good timing, we didn’t collide with anyone else, or endanger anyone. Fotunately, I got my license here in upstate New York right around the begiining of the winter when I was 20 – I learned quickly how to handle skids and slides.
We were lucky. But my car?
Not so much.
I did mention that it’s a 1998 (yup, from the last century!)? And that it was edging in on 300,000 miles? I don’t think that I mentioned the significant rust, the phantom electrical gremlins, the transmission whine….
In short, it’s become a more feasible financial decision to sign the title over to the garage it was towed to. As my Accomplice said, it was hard to imagine a new car in a driveway that already held two cars….
Oh, and it also holds that old vintage pickup – the one at least three men have stopped by to see if we were willing to sell.
My Accomplice had been determined to keep old Gus. You see, Gus is, in some ways, the symbol of our relationship. He was the first thing we ever bought together, back at the Grand Canyon, before we were even married. My roommate told me I was making a mistake. I didn’t know this guy very well, after all.
Gus is also our history. We used him for traveling to backwoods places to camp – and then to pull our two travel trailers – the 21 foot one we bought for our first home, and the 30 foot replacement, where our son came home four years later. Between those events, we used Gus to drive around the country three times.
And then we drove back to upstate New York with our newborn baby boy in the wake of September 11, 2001, and parked Gus at my parents’ until we bought our own home up the street.
Gus never went far, after that, and, for the last eight years, he’s been at the foot of the driveway, undriven, and needing work we kept saying we were going to get around to, someday.
The shift that came with the loss of my car cast our rather precarious recent financial situation into potentially becoming disastrous. And, at the same time, the nature of our marriage is shifting in the way some do, when women in our mid-to-late forties realize that we’ve been complicit in our own unintentional subjugation.
My car is gone. For the moment, then, I have less freedom than I did a week ago….
And yet, it’s also liberating.
Gus will go, sooner or later, to someone who wants to take the time and spend the money needed to make him spiffy and roadworthy again (but we’ll keep his Wyoming plate). With him, we release a physical symbol of our relationship’s beginning, as we muddle our way through this transition – our youngest child soon to be a teen, our eldest only a few months from being old enough to drive…my Accomplice’s hot sauce business taking its first tentative steps into the world, and me learning more and more about how to help him, and how to turn my writing from a passion to a business I can call my own.
So, we’ll sign some things away, but there will also be room for growth, and change, in the signing. And that’s something of a sign of the times.
Have you ever found liberation in something that at first seemed like a setback?
Please share your experiences in the comments – life’s more fun when we share!
This post is part of Linda G.Hill’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday meme -an unedited stream of consciousness piece that ties into the weekly prompt: “sign,” used any way we like.