Monday, June 3, 2013

Perfect Timing

by:  Joan Hitz
In November I traveled a northeasterly route to visit friends in Massachusetts for the first time. By placing “procrastination” at the top of my packing list, I was able to make the five-and-a-half hour drive with perfect timing to secure my arrival on dark country roads exactly as the sun clicked off.      
Five hours and twenty minutes into the trip, I exited a highway flooded with a glorious autumn sunset and propelled my ramshackle Subaru into the black of night.
Allow me to introduce my Subaru ...
A dark green adolescent of fourteen, my Subaru is the second in a short line of Subarus I’ve owned (the first was consumed with 42 other cars in a parking garage arson in the year 2000; yes, this is a fact). Purchased quickly under the duress of suddenly lacking my first Subaru, my second Subaru is a base model which doesn’t possess the moonroof and fancy electrical features of its ill-fated predecessor. 
This car, which I’ve grown to love for its simplicity (and, like all Subaru-lovers, for its fulfilled promise of longevity), is still equipped with one of those charming memories from my 1970s childhood: handles to roll down its windows. There is no moonroof, but, if you grab a handle and roll down a window, you can stick your head out and see ... the moon. 
(The first Subaru, as I recall, had a malfunction in its high-tech moonroof anyway. So to view the moon, there was always that standard side window ...). 
Under my dedicated automotive tutelage, my Subaru has acquired a character that is not too distinct from its owner. Easygoing: If you ride as my guest, you’re encouraged to tip your travel mug and baptize the carpet’s coffee stain archipelago with your own drips. Dependable: It pretty much shows up when it says it will. Quirky: (Those who know me may fill in the blanks.)
Back to the dark country road ...
On this November night in rural Massachusetts, I needed to make several turns onto long lanes to arrive at my friends’ “suburban” house in the woods. Although a bright white moon floated among the skeletal roadside trees, it was difficult to see inside my car. There was no density of suburbia - streetlights, 7-11s, parking lots - to access to look at my map. 
Yes - map. My Subaru and I do not believe in GPS. And being quirky, I (here it comes) do not carry ... a cell phone
Yes, fling the exclamation points skyward! Mutter “How can it be?!?” But, it is true. I do not use a cell. When I see friends and family (at dinners that I have somehow, inexplicably, found out about via my ... telephone), I occasionally promise to “someday look into getting one.” But I do not own a cell phone yet.
Which is why, on this journey through blackness, when I arrived at an unmarked country juncture where my car had to either head straight or turn left under an old stone bridge, I simply stopped the car, gazed at the moon, and, switched on my HPS (Hopeful Positioning System). In sixty seconds, hope arrived. A huge pickup, headlights blaring like a night game at a football stadium, emerged through the bridge. With my super-luxury crank handle, I rolled down my window, stuck out my arm, and beamed my space-age signal - I waved.
The guy inched forward, I called out my question, and he grinned and pointed. “Yes, ma’am - your street is that way, under the bridge.”
The kindness of strangers. No satellites necessary.
Minutes later, I rolled up to my friends’ house under a magnificence of towering pines. During my visit, the beautiful old-fashioned-and-up-to-date moon stayed full, and on Saturday, near midnight, we all went outside and howled at it. The pine trees cheered our gesture.
A few weeks later, at a well-lit intersection in my (very) suburban hometown, the front bumper of my Subaru made the acquaintance of the front bumper of another vehicle when its driver, suffering a medical condition, made an erroneous turn into oncoming traffic (me). It was at low speed, no one was hurt, and the truth (as seen from above, if you were, say, sitting astride a satellite, or the moon) is that my being positioned there, at that moment, most likely saved this man and others from a more severe high-speed collision on the busy roadway. 
In 2000, one week before I purchased this car, my niece, now 12, was born. I tell her Aunt Joan will arrive at her high school graduation in this very vehicle. I may even manage to pull it off for my younger niece, now nearly 10. 
That graduation would be in 2020.
Maybe I’ll own a cell phone by then. 

1 comment:

  1. Been so lazy in the "blog-o-sphere" this past year, I completely missed this wonderful & witty post!

    Your gift of using descriptive prose is as fresh as the carpet in the Subaru is not fresh!

    <3 Barb