24 April 2008

Happy Birthday

Dear Little Man,

I was reading my old journal the other day, and I realized that I sold my Camaro exactly a year before you were born. I still remember having a minor panic attack as I watched someone drive away in my baby for the last time. I loved that car. Loved it. It wasn't anything special as far as sports cars or even muscle cars go, but it was mine. I bought it when I was 19-a sophomore in college. I went to look at a used Buick and fell in love with a shiny red Chevy instead. It wasn't the kind of car I ever imagined that my 19-year-old self could own at 19. But it was beautiful. The day after I brought it home, I tried looking out a window--you know, just to make sure it was real--but somehow lost my balance and gave myself a black eye. I didn't care- I owned a Camaro. Not my parents, not someone else- me.

I loved driving that car. I loved people looking twice to see who was in it. I loved the way you rode only 6 inches or so from the ground, your legs far out in front of you, as though you were lounging in some sort of souped up La-z-boy. Boys were always impressed with it. Most girls drove around little Cavilers or Toyotas--not me. I would get out of class, exhausted, but my face would light up when I saw her there in the parking lot. And on beautiful spring days, I would roll the window down and turn up my music as I drove from campus to work. I remember one day, in particular-- I was curving down the road that led into campus, the sun was shining (a rarity in Ohio), the sky was blue blue blue, and suddenly Metallica's cover of "Whiskey in the Jar" came on. Perfection.

I always told people that I would keep the car forever. For. Ever. I would shove car seats in the back. I would rent a storage unit to just keep it, so I never had to let it go. I never let anyone else drive it-- until I let your papa drive it. (It was one of the ways I knew he was different- I was that comfortable with him).

On the day we got married I drove myself around all morning, because I wanted to be in my car. It relaxed me to drive it. People thought I was crazy that I wanted to pick them up to go get our hair done, but being in the Camaro made me calm. We drove away in it that night, my skirt fluffed up to my chin in the tiny bucket seats-- I remember that more vividly than the antique limo we paid to have drive us around all day.

When we decided to have a baby, I knew that my Camaro really had to go. I was excited, because I wanted a baby so badly, but I was so sad every time I looked at the For Sale sign we put in its window.

I never expected it to sell so quickly. I thought I would have a month or so left, but then one evening some guy came and took it away. And as I watched him drive off in what was still car, I could hardly breath. Literally. I'm not exaggerating when I say this--I had an unbelievably visceral reaction to saying goodbye to that machine--to that part of myself.

I bought a Toyta.

I couldn't possibly have known that it would be one year to the day that you would come into my life. You could have been born before midnight. Lord knows I was in labor all day--there was really no reason to wait. But you did wait. At 1:15 in the morning you came into this world. On the 25th of April. One year later. It was like you were telling me that something new and better had come along.

When I read that journal entry the other night, I couldn't help but to smile. It's like you knew that you were supposed to be born that day--three weeks ahead of schedule. (Thank you, for that, by the way.)

Part of the pain of letting go of that car was the pain inherent in letting go of a part of yourself--a time in your life. Looking back, that pain doesn't seem misplaced or even overdone. It seems very, very appropriate. And yet, reading over the journal entry, I couldn't help but smile back at my 25 year old self. Because she thought she knew, but couldn't possibly really know that giving up that car meant getting something infinitely, infinitely better.


I used to look longingly at every red camaro that crossed my path. Wondering if that was my car. I don't anymore. Sometime around 1:15 on April 25, 2006 something changed. You changed it.

So I hop into my little black Toyota--the one with only a 4 cylinder engine. And I actually love it- because your car seat is in the back. Because there are wipes in the cup holders and cheerios in the backseat. Because there are little jackets and still the residue from yerps that I can't quite get rid of. Because it's your car--the one that took me to the hospital on the 24th and brought you home on the 26th.

So Happy Birthday Sweet Boy. I knew that having you would change everything. I just don't think I could have ever imagined that they could have been this much better.

Even better than a 19-year old feels with a shiny red Camaro.

Love Always,


jeffersonian said...

You know, I remember you proclaiming your intent to keep the Camaro forever, and your plans to put a car seat in it. This much I can validate.

However, I'll inform your readers that the description about stretching your legs out is clearly about a car other than your Camaro. You gave me a ride back to campus in that thing, and I briefly considered hanging my legs out the window for comfort. There was no room for limbs in that car.

All of your past and future passengers also thank Little Man for making room for us!

LD said...

Oh- that's right. J made you sit in the back. The backseat was nonexistent. They should have just made the trunk bigger. Now the front seat was the place to be :)

Mad Grad Mom said...

LD, you brought a tear to my eye.

Happy B'day, Little Man!

AcadeMama said...

What a beautiful post! As a former owner of a shiny, red Firebird, and as a mother, I totally understand what you're describing. I, however, was too broke as a single parent to replace the Firebird with anything else when H was born in 1999, so for the first year, she and I both were the cool chicks in the red sportscar :)

Happy Birthday to Little Man!

Anonymous said...

aww he is way cuter than a Camaro!I can totally relate...I tend to get attached to my cars--to the point that, when I trade one, I wonder (beyond all reason) if the old car's feelings are hurt, or if its confused as to why it isnt in the garage.