alabama.license.sticks.

The car takes the road like butter on hot toast.  Melting over speed bumps, smoothing around sharp curves, floating across our several bridges, aloft.  The seats are air-conditioned cool and feel like menthol on my summer-sweaty back.  Van belts out his heart-aching lyrics from six surrounding speakers – croons and picks and drums me through traffic lights.  This is a magic mobile.  My father’s car, the one he can no longer pretzel himself into even with the help of two men.  Now he motors up a ramp into a van, pivots, aligns, click-lock-shut goes the wheelchair; and he’s off with his grandson at the wheel, ramp door clanging over every crease in the pavement.

My husband and I have inherited the family jewels in the form of a luxury car – we who heretofore drove functional hybrids and beat-up Volvos.  Reading the car manual is better than fiction.  Really?  The back seat arm rest is really a beer cooler? The rear-view sun shade automatically withdraws itself without being told whenever I back up and then quietly resumes parasol position when I’m not looking.  The woman in the dashboard is always, inexplicably, right no matter how wrong I turn.    Did James Bond ever drive this car?  It’s that foreign and fascinating.

The Alabama disability tag on the rear reminds me that I’ve inherited not just the butter of life but also the dry toast.  Hard to swallow stuff.  It comes, always, as a package. Abundance and loss.  Comfort and consciousness.  Gratification and grief.  Even a smooth ride can come, anytime, to a crashing halt.

I live and move inside this reality now.  The car door recognizes me before I arrive, submissively unlocks itself and invites me in.  I touch the good life my father made for me and say thanks.  Behind me, I am tagged for life. Long after a healthy South Carolina tag replaces this one, I will still know all too well the ways I am disabled.  The things I have lost.  The sadness in the deep pockets of things.

Susan

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~ by Susan on 06/11/2010.

2 Responses to “alabama.license.sticks.”

  1. From one weary road warrior (currently on the byways of NC) to another, thanks for this lovely ode to wheels, journeys and the miracle that cars help us accomplish–which is to close the distances that separate us. Save me a beer from that arm rest!

  2. Fabulous. Roll Tide.

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