… on saying so long to the bicep


Thick Lenses on Old Eyes

This week was a down week.

A spring cold came in for a landing, super slowly and day by day until I was absolutely demolished by the end of the week.  Today is a bit better and I’m hoping this creeping crud goes away far more quickly than it settled in.

I will say though, each time I get sick, there is a bit of time I relish my incapacity.  It’s sort of like a great snowstorm, where you can’t go anywhere or do anything, and you have to enjoy hanging out by a fire and being stuck inside.

Except, of course, this feels like there is a snowstorm in my head… melting out of my eyes and nose with winds wHipped up by hacking coughs that wake the shepHerds dozing at my feet.

Okay fine.  I prefer the actual snow.

But in and around hanging out and pushing fluids, I managed to confirm something via e-mail that has been in the works for a few weeks.

Salesman Holden came through with the right numbers, and that means JoHn and I are getting new car and, as it always is, that’s pretty exciting.

But this time, it is also a little bitter-sweet.

Cars are a big part of our lives.

You want a great dinner party conversation?  Topic hop over to everyone’s first car.  You’re bound to hear stories of hand-me-down gas guzzling boats, and freezing hands and feet in original Volkswagen beetles.  Limping into inspection stations and hoping for a friendly mechanic to gift you with just one more sticker on your windshield.  Floor mats covering up rusted out floorboards…  Laughs and fond toasts to cars gone by are bound to happen.

For some of us, our first cars were our best cars – the ones that provided the best stories of our youth… got us out of scrapes, provided the privacy we needed with friends and loves as we began to become who we were going to be, apart from our parents and families.

One of mine was a 1973 Ford Pinto that we referred to as the ‘Pinto Matchback’ due to that year’s Pinto’s tending to, you know, burst into flames, sometimes when hit from behind.  When I bought it, in 1983-ish,  It was worth the $500 I paid for it. A year later I put a top of the line Sony stereo in it.  John helped me cut the holes in the back deck for the 6X9 speakers I bought to go with it.  The whole package cost $520.

Which made complete sense to me at the time.

Also? Led Zeppelin’s Carouselambra sounded awesome when I was flying (which, children of mine, means driving very slowly and safely) down Pawtucket Boulevard, late at night, to make it home before my mother noticed I was not there and Medusa’d herself into a tizzy.

But that Pinto with the stereo more valuable than the whole car? That was not my favorite vehicle of all time.

Nor was the Le Car (Pierre), who had a few teeth missing on his starter wheel so made a horrible sound each time I tried to start him… so we’d roll his teeny body a bit and try again until we got it just right.

Nor was my red Grand Prix (Dick), or my bright blue Pontiac Fiero who, frustratingly, had no name (Nothing ever stuck.)

My favorite car, of all time, is in my garage right now.

The Bicep.

He’s been slowing down for a while, leaving the longer rides to the younger cars.  But has been happily (and locally) acting as Gabe’s first car among other roles.

But on Tuesday, he will retire from our family.

Over the course of nearly a quarter of a million miles, I have driven and loved this car.

I got him at an important point in our lives, just before Sam began sixth grade, and was about to attend a phenomenal school that taught smart, talented kids who happened to be dyslexic.

I had left work by that point, because Sam needed more support (he had some tough stuff in addition to his dyslexia).  And being able to attend this school was an incredible opportunity.

The only thing was, it was an hour away.

An hour there, and hour back… twice a day.

20 extra hours a week in the car.

A lot more if Sam forgot his homework, or a project, or his gym clothes.

Which was…  let’s see …


We did that for three years, in addition to all the other driving we did.  Mac was still in gymnastics 20 hours a week, so 4 afternoons plus whatever competitions she had on the weekends (and wherever they were). Gabe was little, but was already having fun playing soccer on weekends.

And then there was some tough stuff.

The Bicep got us to Boston, the night Sam had his seizure.  Alone on a dark highway at 2 a.m., the Thanksgiving table set back home… hearing the beat of the med-flight helicopter rotors in the distance.  Looking up.

Watching it pass over us, red light blinking, through the huge sunroof… and watching it speed south, my son inside, toward Boston.

Willing the car to fly.

This car has shuttled us on celebratory ice cream runs, and to nail-biting sporting events.

He’s carried us on vacations, and to emergency rooms (and funerals).

Band trips and summer camps.

Middle school dances and prom dress shopping and trick or treating.

He’s provided shelter and privacy for the heartbroken and terrified.

And lit the night, and the streets, during fierce storms.

He has also stayed stoic through endless goopy dog nose prints on his windows.  And carried a few great dogs to their final vet appointments.

For nearly eleven years, it has brought us where we needed to be (and where we wanted to be).

So long, Bicep.

You did your job well.

Good car.


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