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Flash Fiction

Plovember 10: Look at California


Don’t you just hate it when life changes right from underneath you?

It was like that.

I ended up back in school, this time for my doctorate. I wasn’t happy about it at all at first, but then because the program was so fabulous I started (gasp!) liking school. A few months in and the bottom dropped out at work: my dean, who I thought was the best boss I’d ever had, stepped out of that role and was replaced by someone … else …

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It was more her attitude than her visage. Photo courtesy I Choose Change

I had an opportunity to travel to Arizona with my family. ‘Be careful — the sky is big out there,’ Christopher warned. I had no idea what he meant until we drove out of the car rental garage and into the desert.

I was immediately smitten. It was July and at least 110 degrees. I relished every drop of sweat while we were there and cried when we got on the plane to leave. It became my every waking obsession to find a job in the Southwest. I searched Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, and California,  where I landed a university administrative faculty position. We packed up Tiny and Big Blue as the moving truck took off with our belongings. It was July again and the trip was extraordinary.

What made it so was that as a youth, I’d wanted to be a long-distance truck driver. And here I was, driving cross-country!

We moved into a sprawling leased home and lived there as the economy fell apart in 2007 and 2008. I started asking around about mortgage costs and when my neighbors and co-workers started saying numbers with many zeros, I realized we had to move out.

Remember, I boycott: I knew there was no way we could afford to buy the house we were leasing and if we broke it, we’d be in big trouble.

The house-hunting commenced and I bought a modest two-bedroom, single-story affair that was just around the corner. It was in an older part of the neighborhood, which meant it had trees and rose bushes. It became home in 2009.

After a few years, Tiny started having issues. He was a four-wheeled snow bunny, transplanted to the desert. I was driving quite a few miles a day since I changed positions at the university. I decided I needed a sedan that would give me better gas mileage. I got up one Saturday morning and took off for the (slightly less-than-reputable, I found out later) dealership in town where we knew one of the salesfolk. I left with Claus.

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This is pretty close to my Claus, a 2009 Audi A4. Photo courtesy car.mitula.us

It wasn’t until I was driving away from the lot that I burst into tears: as a little person, I used to grab the free (old, to be discarded) copies of Car & Driver Magazine from our local library, just to drool over the Audis. Claus isn’t a Quattro, but it didn’t matter. Yet another blessing and dream come true.

But reality had to set in eventually. The university job ended. However, it gave me time to be at home to take care of things for my son, who has special needs. He soon moved into a semi-independent living house, where he remains today. Christopher’s health took a turn and a year or so later, Big Blue got parked. I was able to drive him to his medical appointments and be his caregiver when the time came.

If you’ve been around these parts for a while, you know already that he Crossed Over. I got the truck running again and renamed it the Blue Behemoth; you may have seen my #Behemothing posts on Facebook. Claus had a severe oil leak but is back on the road now, while the Behemoth awaits a head gasket repair. I will get it done because there’s nothing like riding high in a four-wheel-drive.

And there you have it, my automotive love- and hate-stories, from beginning to end.

Tomorrow, something different …



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