Monthly Archives: October 2014

Goodbye to the Laden Jar

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Heading to Old Forge

I don’t get too sentimental about objects or possessions. While my innate hatred of waste will keep me using the same dingy colander for 25 years or so (well, it still drains liquid, doesn’t it?), I’m not one to hold onto something useless or that has seen its day. Even so, some things retain associations that are hard to forget, and makes letting them go just a little bit odd.

So, cars. Because of a confluence of events, we ended up buying two new cars within months of each other way back in 2001 and 2002. We don’t do heavy driving, and haven’t had great luck, so it’s fair to say that we didn’t necessarily expect that these two cars would carry our children from early grade school into adulthood. One of them, a peppy little red Mazda Protégé 5, went about 120,000 miles until last fall, when a combination of high mileage, extensive rust, and my new need to commute long, long distances meant I needed something with a little more of a competent body. But even so I was a little sad to see it go. My wife loved it, and I would always associate it with those wonderful summer evenings we used to spend at Red Oaks Swim Club.

Our big blue Nissan Xterra, though, had to make the move to Pennsylvania. I was a little concerned about the distance and the fact that it wanted to make a perpetual right turn, but we got it down here just fine. There was an extended process involved in getting it registered and plated in PA, but after three false starts we finally got the paperwork done and were ready to take it for its inspection. We expected a 13-year-old vehicle with 135,000 miles on it to possibly face some issues passing inspection, but we were hoping to get through another few months using it as the emergency backup. (Have I mentioned that we can walk pretty much everywhere in our town?)

I loved that Xterra. For a long time, not only was it the best driving vehicle I’ve ever owned, and the blue-est vehicle I’ve ever owned, but it was the most suited to our lifestyle. Super-heavy-duty roof racks, extra cargo space up top, a big hitch, running boards, four-wheel drive, lugs for hanging things from the ceiling in the back – it was the best biking/canoeing/camping vehicle ever. Despite not being the largest SUV by far, we could pack enough gear, clothes and kids to camp for a week (during which times we referred to it as “The Laden Jar”). I drove it to every bike path and canoe launch in the region. I spent countless hours waiting outside dance classes in it. As a car, my new Subaru has a lot of superior qualities (heated seats not being the least of those), but it will never be lived in like the Xterra was.

When the service guy called, I was prepared for moderately bad news, and had a number in my head that I was willing to spend to keep that unwieldy beast in my very, very narrow driveway for a few more months. He pretty much doubled that number, and all my sentimental attachment went right out the window. Only a fool would pay that much for an unladen laden jar.

We told the kids that the big blue truck is going to live at the service station, just as you would say a puppy has gone to live on the farm. Except in this case, it’s true. While it wasn’t worth six to eight months of new car payments for us to keep it going, the service station made us an offer. Turns out, it’s about the same color as their building and business color, so they’re going to fix it up, clean it up, toss their logo on the side and use it as a local shuttle car.

So goodbye, old Xterra.

Blow up that nest!

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I suppose there are gentler ways to introduce your children to adulthood. It wasn’t that I wanted to leave their childhood home, the only home they’d ever known, taking away their rooms and the deeply comforting knowledge that they’d always have a place to come back to. (I mean that in theory, only; in reality, I want them to fend for themselves.) But an opportunity to remain employed came along, and off we went.

And I knew that at some point our enjoyment of the new empty nest would have to irritate them at least at some level. No longer tied to the school schedule, the ballet schedule, the Nutcracker rehearsal schedule, we could go out and do things. Sometimes on weeknights. And in our new town, there would actually be things to do. On weeknights! Imagine that.

But there was no sense in easing them into this, right? So why not pile it all on, and go to see one of their absolute favorite musical icons, without them (because there was no way to get them here), in a great intimate setting, on a school night? Okay, it was a little cruel that we never told them it was happening. At first, to be sure, it was about the whining. We knew there would be a deep desire to somehow get down to the City of Brotherly Love and take in the show, and we knew it was impossible, logistically and financially, to make that happen for both of them. There was a point at which we meant to say something about it, and then honestly we kept forgetting it was even coming up. So we announced it the way one announces all bad news these days: through a Facebook check-in. The reaction was about what we expected.

Screen Shot 2014-10-02 at 8.08.19 AM.pngAnyway, had a lovely evening at an interesting venue, Union Transfer. Former furniture forwarding warehouse in a section of the city I’d not visited before. I’ll admit that their warning only to park in their lot, and not in any of the others that might be pretending to be their lot, gave me a bit of concern, but in the end the neighborhood was just fine and the venue was great. (Nicest bathrooms of any rock club, ever.) Room for 300-400 people, maybe there were 250 there to see Imelda May tear it up in Philadelphia on a Tuesday night. The crowd pretty much looked like us, which could either mean that kids these days don’t know anything about good music, or that they’ve all got other things they have to do on a Tuesday night. We don’t. It was kinda cool.