I’ve Been Holding Out …

Generally, I blog about normal everyday life.  With (mostly) good humor and (hopefully) a degree of perspective.

But for the past few months, I’ve held back.

Not on purpose. More because I couldn’t FIND perspective. Because this past summer was one of the most difficult I can remember–especially after my car bit the dust in May.

For 4 months, I was without a car of my own.

At a party last weekend:

Friend: Amy, you are too nice. Always the ‘peacemaker.’ We are going to have to teach you how to be NOT NICE!

Daughter was within earshot…

Darling Daughter: Just take her car away. That’ll do it.

Me: She’s right.

Darling Daughter: She’s been horribly cranky…

She spoke the truth and I admitted it to everyone. Though we all had a laugh, those months were awful.  So much so that I couldn’t put words to the low points, my despair. I lost my freedom, my autonomy…and even my sense of self-worth sometimes.

But I finally bought a car. A used car, but it is new to me.

Though older, my Nissan Altima is loaded with safety features, has leather interior, disc brakes, a moon roof, a BOSE stereo system and much more.

I’m not sure anybody appreciates having a car as much as I do.

The cherry on top?

It is stick shift, which I wanted. (but couldn’t find when I got my last car) With its powerful V6 engine, my new/old car is a joy to drive. A party on 4 wheels.

My local Nissan dealership took it on a trade a few weeks ago. And it would have been sold in a day or two. Except nobody wanted a 5-speed.

Several Nissan employees (all men) had their eye on it. Were thinking of buying it.

So it was sort of funny that a girl strolled in and grabbed it.

My first car was stick shift, but I haven’t driven one since my early 20’s. Like riding a bike, it came back to me as soon as I got behind the wheel for the test drive.

The other thing that is sort of funny (In hindsight anyway…) is how quickly our car situation turned around.

My ex gave his Lexus to our daughter a couple of weeks ago, when he got a new car. The Lexus had high mileage since he drives a lot for work. Nearly 200K. But it is a solid car, not very old–and should last her a while.

Our  driveway was empty for months. Unless you count the 14 cars I borrowed off and on.

Somehow,  we went from ZERO cars, to TWO cars in a matter of days!?!

The kids and I have been through our share of challenges, but the ‘car thing’ was almost my undoing. And I have no idea how my children tolerated living with me at times. Or why they didn’t run away from home.

Not sure how family and friends coped either. But they did. Not only did they all hang in there, they went out of their way to boost my spirits,  support me and chauffeur me around.

They ALSO  let me borrow their cars.

And I’m not even the best driver. Yet only Aunt Kate handed over her keys and said, “Just don’t crash it…”

The car isn’t the only thing I’ve held out on…

I’ve had a new job for months. A job that truly enjoy. That I’m good at. (For a while, I wondered if I was ‘good’ at anything.)

After being laid off a couple of years ago, I was determined to find a job/career that suited me. I’ve sold vintage items online and I’m still an eBay PowerSeller and Top Rated Seller. I’ve also taken freelance projects; written and edited web content, set up blogs, even designed a restaurant menu . With no idea where it was going, I kept saying ‘yes’ even when I was terrified. Kept doing what I loved—Selling. Marketing. Writing.

Until I fell into my current job as a Marketing Manager for a local (downtown Willoughby) company.

Then, more serendipity. A friend that I met through my online selling leased space in downtown Willoughby one block away from my new job—and I’ve been busy moving my part-time eCommerce business there. Helping my friend market her upcycled furniture. (More on that another time…)

Not too long ago, I was down…though maybe not out. And suddenly, I’m surrounded by opportunity and possibility.

For the longest time, I felt as though I was on a roller coaster, with it clicking up…up and up farther. Seemed I went uphill forever. With no end in sight.

Then, out of nowhere I hit the top. And now I’m just hanging on for the ride as it rolls downhill…

I’ve got the beginnings of a career in marketing. A small side business doing what I love to do. A blog that has been read by thousands. (for some reason???) A car. Two (seemingly) well-adjusted, happy teenagers. A peaceful and happy home. Family and friends. A couple of dogs

And I’m full of gratitude. For my ‘inner circle’ of family and close friends for not giving up on me. For sticking by me when I wasn’t all that fun to be around. When it would have been far easier to bail. And for continuing to believe in me—even when my belief in myself got shaky.

As I type this post, I wonder if it gets much better than this?

Especially when I’m driving my new/old car. Because it hauls as#. I can’t wipe the smile off my face when I’m behind the wheel. There is a sense of triumph that I hung in there–even when I couldn’t see a way out.

And for sure, I am starting to get excited about what comes next again…

Special Thanks to my family & friends for getting me to and from my new job (one way or another) these past months. I’ve never been more grateful or felt more lucky to have all of you at my back.

Lucky #13 ~ The Ford Edge?

There have been 13 cars parked in my driveway in the past 3 months…

1. Honda Accord:

Back in May, I still had my Trusty Honda Accord. 13 years old and about 225,000 miles on it. It was getting tired, so I sold it.

LIFE JUST KIND OF HUMMED ALONG.

2. Dodge Grand Caravan:

I used the cash from the Honda Accord to buy The Green Van. I knew I was taking a chance, but didn’t want a car payment. Drove the Green Machine down to Washington D.C and it promptly bit the dust. I’ve been without a car since the end of May.

The relatives brought me back home. Sort of like an ‘Adult Carpool.’

3. Toyota Corolla:

My cousin dropped me off at my father’s house. They were out-of-town, so I borrowed their zippy little Toyota Corolla. Handled great. And got FANTASTIC gas mileage.

4. Chevy Tahoe:

Then my Dad got back and I was handed off their other vehicle for several weeks. That truck was top-notch for hauling my teenage son and his friends to football conditioning each day. They are all 6’ to 6’3” and bigger than most adult men. The downside? I think it got about 8 miles per gallon and it cost me a fortune to put gas in the thing…

5. & 6. Trailblazer & Audi A4:

Borrowed from my friend and her daughter when I needed to run an errand or pick up kids.

7. Ford Pickup:

Borrowed from my neighbor Chapman when I was in a bind.

8. Buick LeSabre:

One of my girlfriends had to travel for work and I had this car for several weeks, as well. One doesn’t so much ‘ride’ in a Buick LeSabre, one ‘floats’ down the road. And its burgundy. (She calls it Classic Old Person Color). Fully loaded, leather seats, power everything…its like rolling down the freeway in a recliner. Might be my favorite car this summer. (Was for sure Daughters favorite.)

9. Chevy Impala:

Same family that owned the LeSabre also had an Impala, which we also had here and there.

10. GMC Truck:

Borrowed from yet another friend when I needed to haul furniture. (Another story)

11. Nissan Rouge:

Aunt Kate’s car. Have had that, too.

12. Lexus Sedan:

Daughter has had her Dad’s car when he has been out-of-town.

13. Ford Edge:

This is Lucky #13. And what I am driving today. And this weekend. Fitting that it is called the ‘Edge’ because having it parked in my driveway is keeping me AWAY from the Edge. I’m just not sure how much longer I can be without a car of my own…

Me: I really, really LIKE this car.

Son: It’s a CAR.

Me: True.

Son: Like…any CAR works at this point.

The biggest problem?

For nearly 3 months, I cannot find these cars in parking lots. I have no idea WHICH vehicle I am looking for. Or even what I arrived in…

Sometimes, (Okay…frequently) I have to pull out the keys to jog my memory.

But the end of this disaster is near.

Because It just cannot go on. Not for me. Not for my friends and family.

Son: Mom, it’s a good thing you have friends.

Me: Yeah. For some reason, people seem to like me. No idea why…

Here’s to lucky #13.

May #14 be my NEXT CAR…

BMW’s, Bathing Suits, Barn Sales and Broken Vans…

In Loudoun County, Virginia there are NO Dodge Grand Caravans.

At least I didn’ t see any.  (And I looked!) BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Subaru, Toyota, Honda, Lexus, Volvo—these are the brands that clog the roads and highways in this neck of the woods.

Further, there is NO rust on cars. And really, there isn’t a recession down here.

My green van was an anomaly…(was being the operative word.)

Per the US Census of 2010, Loudoun County was ranked #1 in the USA for Highest Median Income.

My aunt lives in Leesburg, Virginia. And Leesburg is part of Loudoun County.

When I drove past a “Barn Sale” sign, I HAD to check it out. I know what I’ll find at a Barn Sale in Perry, Ohio. But a Loudoun County Barn Sale? I had to check it out.

THIS WAS THE BARN ….

It was a beautiful barn. On a gorgeous piece of property.

And I should have expected such a barn, after rolling down this long driveway. Then a quaint little, wood bridge.

If the Stunning property didn’t do it, surely one of the houses on the property (there were several…) should have been a clue.

Or the shiny, black BMW I passed on my way down the lane. Also, I parked by a scattering of very nice vehicles in a grassy field.

The Barn Sale?

Not much under $50. The furniture and antique items upwards of $500. I could understand if things were truly unique, but there wasn’t anything THAT special.

And there certainly weren’t any $1 items!!

Of course, I had just spent the previous day at the Luckett’s Spring Market that was nearby. Maybe that threw me off. Because the Spring Market was packed with stunning finds. It would be tough to compete with what I saw there.

Still…it seems that ‘Barn Sales’ are just different down here.

I didn’t buy anything. But I had the BEST time checking out the sale. People watching. Checking out the cars. Taking in the scene. Listening to conversations…

MORE AMUSING ANECDOTES from the Never-Ending trip.

The trip that isn’t over yet. After nearly two weeks, I’m still in Virginia.

FLIP-FLOPS:

Aunt Kate accidentally slipped on my sparkly, black flip-flops. And I heard her mumbling about how awful and uncomfortable they were. Next thing I knew, she bellowed up the steps…

Aunt Kate: I’m throwing your black flip-flops out.

And she did.

THE DOGS:

There were three dogs in the townhouse the past couple of weeks. We tried hard to keep it clean. Kept vacuuming couches.

But the Bailey the Beige Dog constantly slept on the Red couch. Leaving cream color hair all over the dark red couch.

Wouldn’t be so bad to vacuum the red couch.

But the The Little Black  neurotic Dog was constantly on the creamy beige suede couch. Leaving black hair ALL over it.

Really?

They could have at least snoozed on the couches that matched their fur.

TALK OF BATHING SUITS:

Aunt Kate was thinking out loud while tapping away on her iPad. I was tapping away on my laptop. We were both distracted. (No surprise there…)

Aunt Kate: I’m going to need a new bathing suit.

Me: Hmmm… (I made as noise as I continued to type…)

Aunt Kate: That goes down to my knees…

Now she had my attention.

Aunt Kate: And down to my elbows.

We both chuckled. (She pointed to knees that aren’t quite what they used to be…)

Aunt Kate: You know like they used to wear in the old days…

Me: Actually, they might have had something there. With their modest bathing suits, long full length, sleeved cover-ups. Jaunty straw hats with the wide brims. Huge, dark sunglasses.

Like Audrey Hepburn…

Or this photo and the mood it sets…

 

 

Do we really need to see some of what we see at the beach??? It isn’t always as attractive as people think it is…
THE DOCTOR’S OFFICE:

I accompanied Aunt Kate to her doctor’s appointment today. They ushered us into a room, I sat down and this sign was on the wall. Couldn’t miss it.

I concede that there was a bad snow ‘incident’ down in Virginia a couple of years ago.

But how much’ inclement weather’  IS there? Yes. They close cities down when there is an inch of snow. But how often do they get an inch?

Further it is May 25th.

Probably, they NEVER needed this sign. And they certainly don’t the snowflake and snowman sign now. Swimming pools are already open down here.

THE GREEN DODGE GRAND CARAVAN:

I can report that there are still NO Dodge Grand Caravan’s driving around in Loudoun County, Virginia. My van was MIA soon after my arrival. It was only on the road once during my visit. Mixed in with all the ‘fancy’ cars, trucks, SUV’s and vans.

I did recoup a little bit of cash when it died, before it got towed away.

When I return home in a car that isn’t mine, I’ll be borrowing my Dad (and his wife’s) car. But only for a couple of weeks…

I’ll soon be on the hunt for another vehicle.

When I get home, that is.

A NOTE ABOUT MY LAST BLOG… Had technical difficulties when I posted it. Then had to take it down. Then put it back up. My apologies to those directed to a page NOT there. Feel free to scroll back and take a look if you like. It is there now.

Goodbye Trusty Honda. Hello minivan.

“Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.”    ~Keith Urban

Most people are only too happy to let go of their old cars…

I have never been like most people.

Last Friday, I sold my Trusty Honda Accord. And it was difficult. Still is.

Once I agreed to the deal, I spent several hours wiping tears from my cheeks. Even took the old car for a final drive to the beach to walk my dogs, just before its new owner arrived to pick it up.

My car was old—yet solid. If I was mechanically inclined, I would NOT have let it go. Could have kept it running for quite a few more years. But I am not.

So it needed to go.  And still, it took me months to take action. I really, really loved that car. Which is crazy. It was a 1999 with over 220,000 miles on it.

What tipped my hand? Why last Friday?

I HAD to get to Virginia on Sunday. Monday at the latest.

(That’s a story for another day…)

And it seemed a bad idea to take my Trusty Honda. I needed space for hauling. And I was taking BOTH dogs. The jig was up. There simply wasn’t a choice.

Prior to Friday, I had several offers on my old car. And I would have gotten a better price had I sold to one of them. But they were as mechanically inclined as I am. (Not very!)

I was determined to sell the car to a mechanic or somebody who could keep it running. It was the only way I could feel okay selling such an old vehicle. That person turned up on the exact day that I was ready (forced?) to move on.

Thought I didn’t get as much as I could have for the Honda, I got enough to purchase the minivan I found at auction on Thursday. I agreed to buy it Friday night, sight unseen.

Really, I wasn’t in the deal to make money, just to make my trip to Virginia happen. And I wanted the situation to be win/win for everybody.

Ironically, my new van is a Dark Green Dodge Grand Caravan. Nearly the EXACT van I drove when my children were younger. Even the same color.

Full circle.

On Saturday morning, I rose early to pick up the van. I handed over the cash. Found a notary. Changed over my auto insurance (using my cell phone) while picking up flowers and running Daughter to her hair appointment—she had prom later in the day. Then slid into the title bureau for temporary tags—with about 7 minutes to spare before it closed. Saturday was chaotic.

My new green van has half the miles on it that my Trusty Honda had. And a new transmission. It doesn’t make the funky grinding noises that my old green van made, or catch when it switches gears. It is a smooth riding vehicle. Mechanically sound. I knew it would get me where I needed to go. Or at least I hoped so…

The downside?

My van isn’t ‘pretty.’ The former owner was a contractor. Meaning it was a utility vehicle, used to haul tools and such to job sites.

The exterior has rust spots. The inside isn’t clean.There is a small tear in the dashboard. A missing armrest. And it smells–like dirt, dust and the like…

Yet it was my BEST option. When it comes to vehicles, I will always choose mechanically sound over ‘pretty.’

I sang its praises to my father and the family—Again, I was getting where I was going. Nobody was stepping in my path.

And on Monday morning, I loaded the van.

I got an E-Check (required on Ohio), then had my new set of wheels titled into my name. I was NOT making the trip without a clear title coming along with me. I might find a van I like better while in Virginia.

Aunt Kate: Where are you?

Me: Just leaving.

Aunt Kate: Just be careful. It’s pouring rain down here…

Me: Oh…then I’m going to get wet.

I ran back into the house for my raincoat.

Aunt Kate: Huh?

Me: I’ll be driving with the windows open.

Aunt Kate: Doesn’t the van have air conditioning?

Me: Yeah. But it smells…And putting the AC on blows those smells directly into my face.

Aunt Kate: Oh…

As I pulled out of the driveway, I noticed that along with the exhaust running a tad loud, there was another funny little sound.

My solution?

Music. I cranked up the volume. And rode the six hours to Virginia singing all the way. Motown, country, easy listening, hip hop…

There was no need to keep the music low, to hear the directions from my GPS. Either my cord wasn’t working or the van outlet doesn’t work. Not sure which.

Anyways, I know the way to my aunt and uncles house in Virginia. I just like to drive on autopilot, “up ahead…get in the right lane.”  Or “take the exit left.” The GPS keeps me on track, in case I lose focus.

Early in the trip, I remember feeling lucky that I am so happy. That I’m blessed with the resilience necessary to roll along with life.  Even when it is not at all easy. That my crazy weekend and stinky, old van didn’t faze me…

The one living being on the trip not keen on the van? Flippity-Gidget.

That’s my nickname for the Little Black, neurotic Dog. She won’t walk on the floor of the van. She enters by hopping directly onto a seat. Once inside, she leaps from seat to seat—even up over the middle bench to get to the far back seat.

It’s odd. But then, she is odd.

The Red Dog? He’s always content. And the new van gave him a choice of two ‘couches’ (bench seats) to snooze on. He counted sugar plums all the way to Virginia…

Probably, there is a 50/50 chance I will be driving the van back home.

It’s possible I’ll sell it while I’m down in Virginia.

Because my aunt and uncle have lots of cars—three, actually. For two drivers.

Which gives me an opportunity that I don’t have at home. I can be without a vehicle and take the time to look for something I like. And I haven’t yet formed an attachment to this van…

The lines are often quite blurry when it is time to move on. From people. Jobs. Relationships. Our living situations. Our homes. Even cars, clothing and smaller possessions.

Letting go can be excruciating. It is always easier to hang onto the known, even when it no longer fits our needs. We cannot find our future if we hold onto our past. The only way to get to the future, or the ‘good’ stuff is to let go.

The Trusty Honda was ONLY a car. I know that.

It was time to move on. I know that, too. What we know in our head doesn’t always line up with what is in our hearts.

And so I’m amusing (consoling?) myself wondering what I’ll be driving when I eventually turn up in Cleveland. With me, you never know…