It is almost three years, since I posted a reflection, one of my favorites, on my then deemed “totaled” 4Runner – https://onthispath.com/2012/09/13/my-10-year-truck-where-to-next/.
I thought of the 35 months as I tossed 20 bags of mulch, some tools and plants into the back of it last week, alone at Home Depot. We’d plodded onward, the truck and me. It’s lost a few more parts. I’ve got a few new scars myself. What it lacks in aestheticism I think it makes up for in grit. It fits with my sometimes awkward, ever vulnerable honest self. It’s rust is still there to be seen. It goes onward.
I parked it in my yard, an assistant as I toiled gloriously in grace, seeking now.
My scratched from yardwork arms and hands are wont to show in my business casual top, as I work to make the money that buys the bags I toss in the back of the truck and spread, getting dirty and scratched. They seem to say all of me is professional. All of me is real.
They have used the hedge trimmer. They have lifted stones. They have carefully placed a baby bird in its nest. They have swung in runs along the road, held fast to handlebars in seeking health and serenity. They have cared for pets. They have cooked meals. They have organized data and created process documents. They have taken many pictures and pulled me through many waters. They have embraced my children and my parents. They have cradled a guitar and a broken toy to be fixed. They have held me at night as I have rocked alone on my porch swing, the very porch swing where I wrote my first post and sit now in pajamas in the late morning summer weekend breeze writing these words. They have been lifted up in prayer and longing.
They have closed the truck door and driven home with tools and soil and mulch, to work to renew, to plant three mums to grow together.
I couldn’t part with the truck, for its usefulness, better value with us keeping it, and its affection from two children who had only ever known it as our vehicle. For almost two years after that, it remained our main mode of transportation. School drop-offs and pick-ups, groceries, to the hospital. Strategically placed bikes and boxes to fit it all in. A job interview – sneakers on with business attire for driving, heels on the floor.
Now it shares the garage with my leased Prius C. Less grit, but gas mileage delight, the little car, “Silver Star,” does not seem strange to me parked next to our “Blue Pearl”. They both have purpose and highlight the value of the other.
In the almost three years that have passed since I was hit from behind and had to contemplate replacing the truck, it has seen a whole lot more of those highs and lows of its first 10 years. Now, our tank, our go to for the muddy days at the park, camping, bikes and trips to the store to pick out flowers – to plant together, six knees side by side in the dirt, the truck is a reminder that “broken” things carry on.
There has been the loss of more people, the discovery of new places, laughs, heartaches and sandy feet with sticky water ice hands.
This past winter I drove it with very…very low air in the tires to the gas station, where the air pump was coincidentally broken, to get gas for the snowblower. There and back, slowly, feeling the familiar curve of its steering in my hands, though wobbly with low tires and snow. Cautiously. Then it sat, dripping in the garage, the only witness to my driveway clean-up in the cold, dark night.
This summer, our family’s annual trip to New Jersey, was one that was a challenge for me, as I struggled through a reality about my fragility, my not being as grounded as I thought I now was and from recent choices and experiences that had jarred something in me painfully. I concentrated steadfastly for the 3 hour and 15 minute drive to the campground, trying to will the ick away. It wouldn’t budge.
I frustrated through the inability to feel the smiles I gave to my children as they lived and loved summer. I gave them laughter like a preciously packaged gift. I flip flopped to the camp store with them to create memories and purchase in the moment cherished items to hold onto on the ride home. I observed curiously their zeal for the moment when we squeezed in 20 quick minutes in the pool, making it just before its closing. 20 minutes of swimming bliss for them and admiration from me, in awe of these last two to climb up the steps of the pool for the day.
I looked up to them with their jubilant enthusiasm with the lake, the pool, the beach, the train, the game room, foamy waves and sand toys, and as they stood near the mighty Atlantic in their bathing suits atop a sand mountain, their envisioned Minecraft world, undefeatable to their imagined enemies. Dauntless.
Their laughter brought smiles as people passed by, watching the plastic trucks race down the pathways we’d made on the big, tall, wonderful pile of sand to the bottom, where my parents sat. They pulled out diamond shells and golden rocks and celebrated their discoveries. They giggled as I climbed and slid with them. They waved at us below, their captive audience.
Sun-kissed and weary we left the beach. We spotted the truck’s dent standing out in the parking along the promenade, where we tossed our sandy toys, towels and selves into its waiting places.
It was then. It is now. We live on. We take our graffiti hearts, marked with all we’ve felt and breathe.
I am the intrepid, sturdy truck still going. I am the tiny silver car, seeking efficiency.
My 20 year old mountain bike, also blue, its top 3rd set of gears not working, brakes in need of adjustment, slid into the back of my truck, to go meet my brother for a ride of healing on the rail trail the day after Home Depot. We’ve got this old friend, the truck and bike seemed to say to one another…and me.
And we do. I do.