I can only remember one time that my grandparents ever gave me a fun present as a child. It was after my younger brother had been born and they brought me a comic book at his baby shower. They were concerned about how jealous I might be over all of the presents and attention he was getting. Since I didn’t really want any of the chew toys this little drooling cabbage patch doll was getting, I figured I got the best present at the party and went off to read my Catwoman comic.
For every other birthday, Christmas, and holiday, I remember my grandparents’ presents were always very practical: clothes or money for college. Now eventually, like say now, I would be super grateful for these gifts. But at the time, a dress or a receipt for some new stock purchase were disappointments. All I wanted (okay, and sometimes still I want) was a new My Little Pony. As children of the Dust Bowl in Kansas, practical is their love language.
When I graduated from college, the big gift was money toward a new car. Since the used one I had at the time was running just fine, I saved the money and used it for graduate school. When I was out of graduate school (for a little while, see previous post on facepalm-life-choices), my grandparents again wanted to gift me with a car to ensure I was traveling safely around Portland and back home to see them and my parents. The decision was that I would be given a new car after I completed my first marathon. I’d started running over a year before so Portland Marathon was already on the bucket list. This was the extra incentive to dive in.
All of this background leads to my car, Pre. I named him after Steve Prefontaine, an amazing runner from the University of Oregon who died in a car accident in 1975. His entire running life was before I had lined up at my first starting line, but his story continues to be told decades after his young death. My car Pre was earned by stepping up to that Portland Marathon starting line, and not stopping until the finish line. It was hours and hours of running, walking, and questioning my own sanity for ever signing up for this crazy. Afterwards I shared a pathetic but happy picture from my couch on Facebook, and then called my grandparents to start talking new car.
My car wish list was pretty short: small car (for mileage and traffic) and not a “normal” color (aka white, black, silver, or red). The color piece didn’t make a lot of sense to my practical grandparents, but the first time I pulled into their driveway, Grandpa admitted that it looked “Sharp.”
I’m a few years past the new car smell in Pre, but I still love my car. I love that I can easily find it in a parking lot. I love that others recognize it for the color and stickers on the back. And I love that it still looks shiny and new, despite the number of miles I’ve put on it (and really, isn’t that we would all like to be: shiny and new, no matter the mileage). In the sun, rain, or under a street line in the dark parking lot, I can find my car and be on the road in no time. Probably headed to edit my dissertation or run (thus avoiding my dissertation). 🙂
As I searched this week for the right blue thing to write about, in honor of “Something in my favorite color,” I walked past these garden rocks several times. It seemed like cheating to write about a stone with all the colors of the rainbow. But this was just too sweet to pass up completely. Maybe it’s wisdom will be the source for a future post. Stay tuned.
#52sparks is my year-long writing series based on an art prompt challenge. The title is inspired by a quote from Star Wars: The Last Jedi: “We are the spark, that will light the fire that’ll burn the First Order down” (Poe Dameron). The spark that lights a fire to toast a marshmallow or to ravage a forest begins in the space of an inch. So just imagine what hundreds of inches and words can do.