Especially with snow in my boots at times, by the end of a day in and out of the car, I was so cold I did the only sensible thing--ran a sinkful of hot water, hopped up on the sink stand, and soaked my feet. With the gothic-shaped mirror, the little candle on the left, and the sconced glare of the light above, and Phil's talent for photography, I think the picture looks somewhat like one of those Renaissance paintings, almost devotional in its privacy.
Friday and Saturday were much car-searching. I'm sure Phil would rather have been doing just about any other thing, and he was so generous in helping me with this quest. For someone who is a "jack of all trades," with its "master of none" subtext, he really is very good at a lot of things, including understanding automobiles--something still inscrutable to me. Whereas I can hear all kinds of noises and subliminal noises, he can hear those noises and identify which of them may be indicating a problem, and how to slew the car around or put the brakes on suddenly or back up and then go forward to see if it'll straighten itself out. The third car we looked at has a little noise in the back: probably a rear differential issue, I parrot, never having heard of such a thing since high school booty calculus. But that third car we saw is now my car. It's another Subaru, like almost everyone in AK drives--here it is, together with the Warthog, outside our friend Lynn's home.
The engine runs quietly and makes no scary random noises. The inside of the car is sealed--no frost to scrape from the inside of the windshield! It's a little taller, and I can see much farther ahead. Great traction on the icy road, and brakes that don't slip easily. Oh, and the heat works! It gets warm; I get warm--it gets so I have to turn the heat down from max!
Then there are other nice things like telling me the time and temperature, having many compartments in which to put things, sunroofs (yes, plural), and the wonderful tabula rasa of a clean car. This is the best car I've owned by orders of magnitude, ditto the price paid. Both measures would be nothing to most people my age, but are meaningful for me.
I'm in a very transitional period, and am choosing to invest this car with a great deal of intent and symbolic value. My best ever car...for what?
The first thing I did, even before DMV and insurance, was buy the various fluids a car needs, plus ice-scraper, cleaner, floor-mats, somewhere to put trash, a tarp to put down when dirty things go in.
It is my intention to keep this car clean and organized, even as inevitably it ends up with "stuff" in it. The "stuff" should be useful or beautiful.
It is my intention to keep this car running well, despite my lack of knowledge of how to do this--to learn enough about what to do that at least I know when to call the doctor! So, I have an appointment with the local-to-Homer expert for as soon as I get home, to find out about the rear differential and all the rest.
Already, it is such a challenge! I set the keychain on the roof of the car, and see how easy it would be to scratch the surface with the key. I sit in the car deciding what to do next, pulling skin off my fingers, picking skin off my scalp--those flakes of skin are mess that would contribute to a general scuzzy buildup in this clean space. Also, though, I try to wash the windshield, and nothing happens. I put almost a gallon of windshield wash in the reservoir--still nothing happens. I pull up the hood again, find the hose, follow it from one end to the other, find everything connected. Now what?
If I don't want to scratch up my car, if I don't want to make a mess in it by pulling off parts of myself, where do I want to do those things? Is it ok to do them in my bed? On someone else's couch? With the windshield washer, I get my first taste of a mechanical problem with no Phil to ask for guidance, and start feeling lame and female; what do I want to do about this?
I know I could easily scratch things up. I know I could easily make a mess. I know I could easily sit in traffic pulling pieces off myself and dropping them everywhere, gross as that sounds to me now. I know I could easily miss important symptoms and let small problems exacerbate themselves. But in recognizing how easy it would be for me to do these things, I chose to take on the discipline of not doing them; of being conscious, recurrently conscious, of the desire to keep my car beautiful and safe and in best working order.
So, am I a sellout to the superficial and exterior? If Phil is riding with me and decides he has to go dig up a tree and put it in my car, and I insist he tarp it so it stays more contained than he might think necessary, am I placing my anal and newly minted cleanliness standards above the imperative to create a forest and give trees a good life, and do so quickly? Maybe I am. But maybe I'm just creating my own boundaries and seeing how I can become a more kempt person, with a more kempt vehicle surrounding me.
And that's what it boils down to. I'm not selling out to the superficial. I'm recognizing that this car will carry me safely for many thousands of miles, spirit willing, and that if I wish to be carried safely as a precious and beloved cargo, the carrier of the cargo must be precious and beloved also. Yes, an extra expense, but as such, an expression of trust in the universe that I am carried through life safe and beautiful, beyond the hardscrabble survival level.
Otherwise: the outer reflects and reinforces the inner.
I haven't forgotten this blog. I've missed it these past days. Life in its intensity and occasional time-squished downpouring of change precluded any posts these last days. Now, in Anchorage and visiting with several different sets of wonderful friends, I begin to thread myself into space, time and connection once again. Sorry for being so behind on comment responses.
The outer reflects and reinforces the inner.