A Luminous Halo

"Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end." --Virginia Woolf

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Location: Springfield, Massachusetts, United States

Smith ’69, Purdue ’75. Anarchist; agnostic. Writer. Steward of the Pascal Emory house, an 1871 Second-Empire Victorian; of Sylvie, a 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL; and of Taz, a purebred Cockador who sets the standard for her breed. Happy enough for the present in Massachusetts, but always looking East.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

First Car, Last Car

I wonder what, in earlier ages, took the special place in the heart now held, for Americans at least, by their first car. Many of my generation fell in love with a bad-ass red paint job, a pair of fins, or a backseat big enough to neck in. The fact that the muffler was falling off or the fenders eaten away with rust did nothing to spoil the illusion of perfection. Incidents involving unreliable gas gauges, fumes, flats, and failing brakes are recounted with fond humor. Many middle-aged men still have a '65 Corvette or MG on blocks in a garage somewhere because they can't bear to get rid of that first love.

I had such a car...except that I was 53 when I bought it. Technically, it wasn't my first car. But it was the first one I ever picked out all by myself. And, since it was my first, and I felt I had the right to be impulsive, when other people warned me it was impractical I just said la la la la la I'm not listening.

I've been on the road with Silvie for five years now, and what a road it's been. Sometimes such an inviting highway that I couldn't resist putting pedal to the metal--and I've got the speeding tickets and consequent steps on my insurance to prove it. Sometimes a very rocky road, when I thought hard about rolling her through my double front doors and turning her into a couch. But I've never wanted to give her up.

John from Taylor Auto called yesterday to tell me that she was ready to be sprung from his shop, where she'd been languishing for some time. She had needed some brake work, among other things, and last I heard, they were waiting for a part from Germany, or maybe making one? Anyway, the part is installed and she's ready to roll again.

Too bad it's almost fall already. I don't think I'll be taking the hardtop off this year. So there'll be no cruising around in the convertible with Taz in the passenger seat, for this season at least. That gives me nine months to teach her how to behave in a car. But next spring--Springfield, watch out. It'll be that crazy lady from Salem Street with the little black dog, all over town.



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