Her name is Minnie. She’s twelve years old and we’ve been together since she rolled off the Toyota dealership showroom floor. I know every inch of her silver full-size body. I like to think the ease with which she handles is because she knows me.
She’s a twelve-year-old hybrid that still gets great gas mileage. She and I, just the two of us, have taken so many fuel-efficient round trips from DC to Boston and back that I could do it with my eyes closed. (Actually, that wouldn’t be a good idea.) Most times we leave at 4am so we miss rush hour traffic on both the Baltimore-Washington Parkway (too early) and the George Washington bridge (too late) and make it to New York City in three and a half hours. Flat. We get behind the fastest car on the New Jersey Turnpike, crank up the tunes and roll. We listen to The Allman Brothers Band’s “Blue Sky” to cruise to as the sun comes up. Then we do some reflecting to Santana’s “Song of the Wind” during the long straight stretches. We use the high energy of Tupac’s “California Love” and Beyonce’s version of “Before I Let Go” to get us through to the end. (There are lots of tunes in between.) I’m sure other drivers see my gray braids bouncing and my lips moving to the music as we fly down the highway at I-don’t-want-to-tell-you mph and think, “What is up with that old lady!” Whereas all I’m thinking is, “Get out of my way!” We get to Boston by lunchtime if we’re lucky on the Mass Pike. Sometimes we’re not so lucky. We did the trip in a blizzard one year. It took us ten and a half hours, but we made it.
Minnie has her issues. Her last name is McSqueaks because one of her sounds is an intermittent squeak that she refuses to let Keith at Franconia Service Center hear. She usually does it after we drive over any raised surface. I told my grandkids that it’s the way she talks to me. On the rare occasions when they hear it, they always squeal, “What’s she saying, Memu, what’s she saying!” Squealing and squeaking. I have the most interesting car rides.
Another of her sounds is the flapping noise under the bumper on the driver side when we go over sixty. That one is my fault. I used to hit things. A lot. I hit concrete wheel stops regularly. Consequently, the front of Minnie’s undercarriage resembles Swiss cheese. The flapping sound is the bit hanging down as it moves in the wind. I once hit my own moving van. That one cost me termination by my insurance company. It also cost me very expensive coverage with another. I was the DMV’s poster child for how not to drive. I haven’t had any accidents since moving to the DC area. (She looks around for wood to knock on.)
So, Minnie is, justifiably, showing signs of age, wear and tear. But then, so am I. I know the time will come soon for me to think about getting to know another car. It will feel a little like a betrayal, though. My husband bought Minnie for me after he was diagnosed with cancer. He wanted me to have a good reliable car that wouldn’t require much maintenance. Minnie is all of that. I’m grateful for his gift and I appreciate her. I don’t have to think too much about it because I can’t afford another car for at least another year. So, for now, it’s still Minnie and me, two old girls rollin’.
So, I’ve been traveling this week. I’m in Boston right now where I lived for many years before moving to the DMV. I still have people here. This past week has been about celebrating birthdays, births and connecting with kin. Coming back to the place that was my home for so long but is no longer my home is challenging. There is a mixed bagful of memories here. Fortunately, after so many years, the memories evoked are more like my mind’s movies than pains in my heart. And I’ve gotta be real, the weather here is challenging too. It’s kinda cold. I’m not used to it anymore. It feels a little more like spring at home where there are buds on some trees. Not so much in Boston.
I’m grateful that I’ve been able to make a little space for writing and reading while still tending to the needs of my family. I can’t work on poetry submissions while I’m away but I can continue working on my new short story, “Perennially”. And I’ve been putting together my next blog post about some changes that come with the second half of life. Hopefully, that will come next week when I’m back home. At night when there are too many of us to all use the wifi, I practice reading as a writer which is wonderful. I borrowed Dr Apelles by David Treuer from the library before I left. It’s an engrossing work that covers territory I know little about which makes it even more interesting. As always, I’m reading my favorite WordPress bloggers.
I’m heading for home soon. Until I get back, I’ll leave you with a few more photos from Boston.
Well, fall is officially here. The autumnal equinox occurred just 2 weeks ago and I already miss summer. It could be my imagination but I feel cold. One of the many reasons I moved south is because I like it hot and humid. In the summer, I enjoyed going out for my 8AM morning walks when the temperature was already a steamy 80 degrees. I’d rather sweat than turn on the A/C. Ok, that might have more to do being cheap but when it’s below 70 and the air is dry, my lips get chapped and my hands get ashy. My friends and family in Boston feel differently. They wilt in the heat and perk up on the first crisp morning with a nip in the air. Fellow blogger The Modern Philosopher lives in Maine and recently described summer and fall the way a typical New Englander does.
There is a lot to like about the fall, though. I do love the autumn foliage, exposed as I was to its glory growing up in New England. The trees here in Virginia turn later than they do in the Boston area. It feels to me as though in New England the change is dramatic but too fast. The trees have started to color here and I’ll grudgingly admit that it is beautiful. It feels as though the slower southern way of life extends to the foliage and I can take it in over a longer period of time. I saw a tree today that was green except for the tippy top, which was bright red. (It reminded me so much of a Dr. Seuss character.) And of course there was the stunning Harvest Moon last month.
Still, I’m slower to wake in the mornings now that the sunrise is later and I experience some anxiety since the sun sets sooner. Did you know Daylight Savings Time ends on November 3rd , darn it? There are days when I ask the migrating birds stopping by my feeder on their way farther south to take me with them. They give me looks of pity with black birdie eyes then fly off without me. On the other hand, I watch the squirrels pull the acorns from small oak branches and throw the defoliated sticks to the ground. They dash across the streets of my community with stuffed cheeks to hidden homes. Obviously their internal season sensors are telling them there is limited time left to store their supplies for the winter. I’m taking heed and doing the same by making soup and canning vegetables. I appreciate the heads up.
So while I feel the pangs of a loss of summer’s delights like long days, dips in blue water and inhaling warm, moist air instead of using my neti pot, I also appreciate the wonder of the change of seasons. I don’t take for granted the blessing of awareness; intellectual, sensory and spiritual, of nature’s cycles being played out miraculously and in living color.
My gratitude goes to Little River Band for the title of this post. I couldn’t think of anything that didn’t sound banal.
So the Daily Prompt:Success asks us about a time when things went the way we’d hoped they would. This is an easy one for me.
Last summer I moved from Boston to Virginia. I felt leaving Boston would help me move past the miasma I was mired in. It did. I’m happier than I’ve been since…..Isn’t that funny. I don’t dare write since when for fear of bringing on something as traumatic as the loss I experienced back then. I don’t believe I have that kind of power but I don’t believe in tempting fate either. Things have been going so well since my move that I have the jitters about it. I took a big leap of faith uprooting my life and thankfully its paid off big time.
I suspected a change of place would jazz me and pique my interest. I obviously picked the right place because there’s always something for me to do here. I live 15 minutes away from Washington DC and there is no lack of action there. Between the political types and tourists I can spend a whole day just people watching. I’ve always loved visiting historical sites and Virginia wins the contest against Boston when it comes to history as far as I’m concerned. As an African-American the Civil War is important to me because it’s so much a part of my history. And I got to go to the presidential inauguration!
I knew moving here would bring my family closer together geographically but I had no idea it would bring us together emotionally. We had a tough time being a family for a while; we were far apart because of distance and different forms of grief. Moving our base to Virginia made it easier for us to have time together at holidays and vacations. We used the time to knit ourselves back together as a whole family. And our family has grown larger which I like to attribute to the better weather.
I hoped my move would bring about the changes I planned and not the unintentional ones my friends warned me about. I’m glad to say this past year has been absolutely wonderful and more than I could have hoped for. Success? You betcha.
This morning, I found myself sitting in gratitude on my balcony sipping my coffee, listening to the birds and feeling positive and vital. Suddenly, I realized that moving to the DC/VA area has unblocked a vein of energy in me that I didn’t even know was blocked! Since I’ve been here I’ve been engaged in activities that I couldn’t find the energy for in Boston. For instance, I joined a couple of meet-ups here. One is the history group I wrote about in a previous post. They like to experience historical sites by walking to them. Who knew I would enjoy it as well? The other is a group that deals with spiritual and religious matters. If you’ve read other posts of mine, you know how important that has always been to me. What’s different now is that I’m willing to discuss the topics with other people…face to face…in real time and I’m not emotionally spent afterwards. (See my post on introversion.) And where did I find the energy to keep up with my grandbaby? I mean really, do you know how busy a toddler is? Also, I’ve been writing. Obviously I’ve been writing all along but up until this summer, it’d been laborious and kind of scary. Now I’m writing regularly and with alacrity. That hasn’t been the case for a long time.
Four years ago my life veered unexpectedly and onto a path I didn’t know was there. This happens to a lot of people. We come to a twist or turn in the road and lose our sense of direction. Before we can move forward again we have to develop a strategy to figure out where we are. The unexpected path I found myself on was one of great loss and big change. It’s apparent to me now that part of my coping strategy was hunkering down inside myself and giving away the pieces of me that I thought contained the pain. So I stayed in a place that no longer suited me doing things for people other than myself. I had gotten through the hardest time of my life without falling apart but I didn’t understand that I wasn’t whole.
The atmosphere here feels right for me. It’s a combination of being around people with whom I’m more comfortable and paying attention to the things that are important to me. So I’m not going back to Boston. I’ve rented out my condo and put in a change of address. Some of my friends cautioned me about making such a significant change at this point in my life. But I’ve decided that if my life can be changed dramatically without my intention then what’s wrong with changing it with intention. I’ve learned that there will be unfamiliar consequences either way.
I feel like my recovered self on this new path and I like where I’m going. Last night I went with a group to the National Cathedral for a walk around the labyrinth there. How about that, people and walking all in one night!
I was exposed to a lot of history being brought up in the Boston area. Most of it had to do with the Revolutionary War period. It’s all about the Boston Tea Party, Paul Revere, etc., up there. As I discussed in my last post, now I’m interested in learning more about the Civil War so I’ve been going out to and taking pictures of, historical sites here in Virginia. I even joined a history meet-up group. (No easy step for an introvert!) What I realized while walking with my group last weekend is that where the Revolutionary War was about the U.S. creating itself, the Civil War was about the U.S. defining itself. That’s important to think about, especially in this election year.
Example of historical architecture of some VA homes
I’m going to look into the history of this” free black” community
Ghosts in the doorways
Next up for me are sites in Washington, DC . Oh by the way, I said in my last post that I’d let you know about any comments I heard about the Civil War. To be honest, during my meet-up I was too busy thinking to listen to anyone. (LOL!)
This is actually a re-post of a piece I had on my recipe page. St. Patrick’s Day is big here in the Boston area so I thought I’d share it again. The recipe is still on the page and I invite you to take a look.
When my children were small we belonged to a multi-racial family group because that’s what we are. It amazes me how many of these families there are these days but back then there were only half as many. As a group, socializing together was just one of the strategies we used to make sure our children felt comfortable in their own skins.
One March, right around St. Patrick’s Day, one of the families hosted a visit by a Maasai tribesman at their home. The mother of the family took great pride in telling the story of how her mother-in-law had taught her the recipe for THE best Irish Soda Bread. I marveled at the scene, watching her wave a piece of soda bread around as she boasted, Kenti cloth around her head and a Maasai guy standing next to her. It was an unusually warm day for March in Boston so we were out on her lawn and all these little different hued kids were running and tumbling around her. It was a very good day. Please enjoy her recipe and happy St. Patrick’s Day.