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June, 2007

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Driving down memory lane
My Way
by Ursula Feist
The civilized man has built a coach, But has lost the use of his feet.
– Ralph Waldo Emerson.
When my car had its 12th birthday and my oldest grandson was just about to get his driver ’s license, I decided to make him a present of it. He beamed from ear to ear and that was enough for me. The car was going to stay in the family and I knew it would be looked after, because he had proven to be extremely reliable.
However, as I was getting the car ready for him, I wondered whether I had made the right decision; it felt like throwing out a comfortable pair of old shoes.
The car had been my home away from home, a place to escape. It was there that I had done my thinking and planning, listened to my favorite music, and talked to myself without having to put up with a response I didn ’t need. When I had the blues, I’d take it for a drive – just my car and me! It had seen me through good and bad times, and, when it had to be left in my garage for only one day, I felt lost and incomplete.
I could easily find it in one of those huge parking lots because it had acquired that “old comfortable look,” with that familiar scrape beneath its front fender. And, oh, there was the stain on the back seat, where my grandson had dropped his chocolate ice cream a day after I had driven it out of the sales office; then, some angry comment; now, just a tearful smile.
In the car I found old faded maps of PEI, Vermont, Toronto, Maine and Cape Cod and remembered lustily biting into delicious lobster rolls on a fisherman ’s wharf! There was that old yellow sweater and matching scarf I had been looking for, shoved into the back of the trunk. Stuck into the side pockets were some incomprehensible notes from years ago. In the glove compartment, a couple of letters I had written and forgotten to mail, as well as an old pair of gloves and the yellowed car manuals. Not that the interior was untidy, just comfortably cluttered!
I now have a new car, but I still keep looking for the old white one in parking lots. The car salesman recognized me and exhibited extreme patience while explaining those scary high-tech buttons I have difficulty with. However, the speedometer gives the actual speed I am driving at, a welcome function indeed, since the police are lurking in corners for a good harvest of tickets and demerit points. I admit to having a bad mark in the art of parking but I have hopes of improving with my smaller new automobile .
It was a dark but not stormy night when I gave a lift to an elderly acquaintance but could not find the right button to open her door. “That is dangerous,” she shouted, which made me feel intensely nervous and totally incompetent.
My friends can’t understand why I don’t just take taxis. It’s not the same. Phoning for one, hoping it will be there on time, especially in a snowstorm, being subjected to some loud music, the crackling of the drivers ’ phone and conversations with his head office irritate me.
No taxis for me yet, my car is in the driveway waiting for me to talk to it and so I have to leave you for now, wishing you all a great and happy summer.

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