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The First Goodbye

Tux Today I said goodbye to an old friend, my beloved convertible Tux, which seems a remarkably appropriate thing to be doing at this time of year.  December always seems a little early for end of year reflections, as usually the weather has not turned enough to make me feel that the seasons are really changing.  This year is no exception — as I watched my first car drive away attached to a stranger’s truck, I was unzipping the wool cardigan that I had thrown on over my t-shirt, because the weather is far too warm for what this season is supposed to mean.

And yet, somehow, it is already the end of the year.  At work, we’ve done reviews and our end-of-year party.  A good friend of mine that has been scheduled to move away at the end of the year is leaving within a few days.  The solstice has already started making longer days. The New Year is less than a week away, which means that this babe in my uterus is now due in a mere five weeks, which seems impossibly close. There was a day in late May, when I sat on the banks of the Sandy River with friends, sipping beer and watching people float downstream in intertubes, which was one of the last days before I knew that I was pregnant.  It seems impossible that that was over half a year ago.  The moments in between have stretched out until they felt impossibly long, as my brain fought with my pregnant body, but now time has compressed again and I am left wondering how it has gone by so fast.

Today, as I patted Tux’s trunk goodbye, I felt like I was touching my own history.  Tux was my first car and we have been together since I was 21 years old.  New York has made it a long time since I’ve spent significant time in any car, but when I think of my car, I still think of my beloved convertible.  I’ve barely driven him since I gave him to my baby brother to use two years ago, but the emotions are still there.  I can well remember heartbroken nights where I would jump into the car and just drive and drive while my brain sorted itself out. Likewise, I’ll never forget joyous midnight drives and smelling the sweet scent of wheat on summer nights in Virginia, with the top thrown down and the wind in my impossible hair.  Removing the knots from my long hair afterwards could take all night, but it was worth the pain for the sweetness of the breeze on my face.

Ever since the accident a few months ago,Tux has sat in the driveway, staring sadly at the house with his smashed nose.  I did not crash him, but every time it rained and I watched the water seep into the gaps in his crushed hood, I felt a deep sense of guilt.  I have donated him to the fire department so that trainees may learn how to use the jaws of life.  I like the idea that this vehicle that is so alive in my head might help save someone’s life some day, but I also can’t help but be disturbed at the idea of someone cutting him apart.  He is a friend, but he’s also a symbol, perhaps the symbol, of my young adulthood.  Those days are solidly behind me now, as my increasing number of gray hairs and sensible shoes clearly attest to, but they were good days, filled with friendship and love and learning and opportunity.  I wouldn’t give up what I have today to go back to them, but it’s natural to mourn a little when you know that they’re really gone.

This next year is probably going to be a haze of milestones in my life.  I imagine that I’ll remember parts of it clearly until I die, as I take the first steps across the bridge into motherhood.  There will be so many firsts as labor and my first parenting experiences pile up.  The first joys, the first mistakes, the first problems, the first moments where I realize that I can do this after all.  Cora be nothing but a bundle of firsts, but I hope I remember my own milestones as significantly as hers.  First experiences are so sweet.

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