The engine sputtered as if agreeing with the gas gage, warning me I might not make it the final two blocks to the station. With my foot easy on the accelerator I made the first block, then came to a nervous halt at a stop sign and waited for traffic to pass. That’s when I saw it.
Directly across the busy six lane, parked crosswise at the stunted beginnings of an entry drive that lead to nothing but an endless field of tall Texas sunflowers, was parked a truly extraordinary car. From bumper to bumper the small station wagon had been painted in alternating warm and cool pastels, giving the effect of dozens of jumbled impressionistic paintings viewed through a gently blurring mist. Strewn here and there among them, a hint brighter and a little clearer, tiny accents of pastel flowers popped forth from the mist. For an instant I wondered if it was a fanciful illusion, a mirage conjured by the triple-digit heat. But no, it was real. Out in the field beyond this wondrous car a honey-haired head bobbed, gathering sunflowers.
My hand shot to my purse seeking my cell phone camera. At the same moment my car sputtered and shook, threatening me with a hot walk for a gas can, while a sudden opening in traffic invited me to make the turn and reach the gas station in time. Sense battled sensibility. The picture would be well worth the walk. On the other hand, running out of gas on that busy six-lane would be dangerous for me and every other driver on the road. There was no shoulder, no safe place to pull over if my car died.
I made the turn. I made the gas station in time. I made a mistake.
The station wagon was gone when I returned.
For weeks I created excuses to be in that area in the hope of spotting the car again. I trawled nearby neighborhoods in search of it. I annoyed my children (bad mommy!) by asking people I met at backyard barbeques and birthday parties if they knew who it belonged to. I never found it.
The car had probably been passing through town on that six-lane never to return. I comfort myself with the truth that even if I found it now, I could never re-create that moment when it sat ice-cool in the blistering Texas heat framed by a field of sunflowers.
But an odd thing came out of this experience. When I first described the car to my family I did so like this: “Imagine (insert name of a person my child had once dated) turned into a car. That would be the soul of this car.” This notion stuck with me. As I moved through my day, I began to notice cars here and there that embodied the personalities of people my children had dated. And this time I took the picture.
These are not extraordinary photos. They are not art. They compare to the photo I missed that day like preschooler doodles compare to Monet. But here they are, my current gallery of cars that remind me of people my children have dated:
Most of the cars my kids’ dates drove weren’t shiny, new, expensive, or unusual cars like the ones in the pictures above. But I chose theses cars to reflect the spirits and personalities of these young daters. Which is why all the cars pictured are beautiful in their own way. Just as, to me, the people my children have dated are each beautiful in their own way (yes, even Narrow Minded Narcissist and Clingy with a Side of Stalker).
Are there cars that remind you of significant people in your children’s lives? Please share by clicking on the number near the title of this post.
*sunflowers image purchased from FreeDigitalPhotos.com – all other images used in this article are copyright 2011 by Regina Richards