Sunday, May 12, 2013

SOTC 53/365

Soft Blossoms (SOTC 53/365) by gina.blank
I sure do love spring at my house.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

A Car by Any Other Name...

Please tell me I’m not the only one for whom cars become like another member of the family. Growing up, our family cars always had names. Phrases like, “Can you go get the groceries out of Norm?” or, “Bonnie’s due for an oil change” were common language around our house. I purchased the Honda Civic that I currently drive back in 2005. She was eggplant purple in colour, with a sparkly shimmer. Oh, yes, I knew she was a girl right away. And yet, it was not until several years later that she had a name.

The name has to be right. I tried out a couple names early on, but none of them ever quite fit. And so—while I referred to her as a ‘she’, apologized to her when she got hurt (damn those bullies in parking lots), and kept her looking pretty both inside and out—she remained fairly anonymous. But with all we shared together, it bugged me that I didn’t know her name.

She and I have looped our way through pretty much every street and avenue in the City of Edmonton. We sit in traffic together each morning, breathing in the aroma of my coffee, sharing the sunrise and Mumford and Sons on the radio. Yet, in over 1,000 daily commutes, she didn’t have a name.

Living in Alberta, she has escorted me on countless prairie drives. We have raced the train to Saskatchewan, where I have shared birthday celebrations and Christmas concerts with my nieces and nephew. We have meandered hilly grasslands to spend quiet weekends in my mother’s rural community. She carried me home to Calgary to be with loved ones after my father suddenly passed away. She connects me to my family and closest friends, yet through all this, did not have a name.

We have shared a quiet twenty minutes with a good book when we were too early for work; we have shared ten minutes with that same book while waiting for the train to pass.

We have watched sunsets together, spotted the Northern Lights, driven under canopies of hoar frosted tree branches, and golden autumn leaves.

And still no name.

We have had many adventures together, too. She has driven clear across the city through November slush with a mattress on her head. She cuts through snow drifts as if they were butter. One all-night drive to Jasper found four people and four people’s worth of camping gear filling every inch of her trunk and passenger cavities.

Then there was the all-nighter across the border. In 2009, we ventured a long weekend road trip to Seattle for the first time. The sights of this artistic urban centre, the lure of the outlet mall, and the need for one last summer adventure took two friends and I through the starry night to get there on the Labour Day long weekend.

We let the full moon guide us down through British Columbia. My Honda performed beautifully on what was her first big road trip. She parked flawlessly in the tight spaces of Downtown Seattle on a Saturday afternoon, traversed the Washington Interstate system like a native resident, and did not complain as we loaded the car carrier on her roof with all of our shopping treasures.

The Coquihalla highway, granted, was a bit challenging. On a downward slope, it was all I could do to keep her from barreling along at over 120km/h. Upwards, however, was another story. She climbed as best she could, loaded down with clothes, shoes, and home storage. Still, it was a challenge to keep her above 80-90km/h. Somewhere around the 3rd or 4th incline, my friend riding shotgun patted her dashboard to encourage her. “Come on, little aubergine; you can do it!”

“Aubergine?” I asked.

“Yeah, it’s French for ‘eggplant.’”


It fit.

Her name was Aubergine.

I was so glad to finally learn her name. We have shared many an adventure together since that trip. As she ages, I know it’s only a matter of time before she goes to that place where old cars go. She has started to complain in the cold weather. She can’t see as well as she used to. She's had two knee replacements.* She has travelled far and she has travelled well.

I have already started researching my new car. I know pretty much exactly what I want. It's a bit exciting--I am already in anticipation of the newness, the freshness, the technologically-up-to-dateness. ...And then I find myself leaving work, spying Aubergine parked by herself in the distance, and all I see is her. I see the summer tires that I just put on, and I wonder if it's like trading boots for flip-flops to her. I see the very first dent someone left in her driver-side passenger door--wow, that was a long time ago. I see her dusty bumper, evidence of our spring streets that haven't been swept yet; Aubergine, you need a bath. And through the layer of dust, I can also see her purple frame, shimmering a bit in the sunlight.

Please tell me I’m not the only one for whom cars become like another member of the family. We’ve shared so much together—and while I am excited for new adventures with a new travelling companion, I look at Aubergine and think, not quite yet. We still have much music and morning coffees to share. We still have a lot of work to get to here in the city. We still have a couple of prairie road trips we need to take together. I am not ready to make miles with a new friend; creaks and dents and cracks aside, I feel that I still have quite a few miles left to finish with the friend I've got.

"Come on, little Aubergine; you can do it."

* Read: new ball joints

Saturday, May 4, 2013

SOTC 52/365

SOTC 52/365 by gina.blank
Nothing like the first night's sleep on a brand new [pillow-top, pocket-coil] mattress.

My back is loving it already.