I didn’t want my mom’s car. The cup holders won’t hold a bottle of water without dumping it on a turn and they are located inconveniently under the dash. It’s a Honda Civic with not much pep. It’s 14 years old. It’s also in very good condition with low mileage, considering its age. My car?
Need I say more? It is 12 years old with a lot of hard miles on it. Something is bound to go horribly awry eventually. I needed a car. My brother, for God only knows what reason, wanted my car. He gave me a very good price on the Honda and I gave him my car (including the bumper) on top of it. It was a good deal.
Except every time I get in the damn thing I think about MoC. Usually it is something that makes me smile. With Mother’s Day coming up (the commercials are killing me) it’s just … well, it’s worse. How’s that for painting a picture with words? I’m doing a few things to make it mine. I reset all the radio stations. The headliner is beginning to wear and David is getting that replaced. It needs new floor mats. Little things.
I was thinking about all of that (but mostly just missing MoC) and singing along to this song on my way to the grocery store last week. It was a gorgeous day, the window was down, the crappy radio was up and I was flying down a hill, through a green light and up another hill. I crested that hill and saw the lights flashing at the railroad tracks at the bottom of the next hill.
When I’m driving my car, I slow down as I’m coming down the hill, but still usually hit the tracks at a pretty good speed because my car is a piece of junk and I don’t care about the tires or the shocks. In MoC’s car, I crawl across those tracks because I care about the tires and the shocks. I was always more careful in her car than I ever was in my own. Apparently that is a hold over.
Except for that day. That day, I turned the radio down to see if I could hear the bells and/or the train. Check. I turned the radio back up. I remember thinking it was strange that the crossbar wasn’t down. I was still near the top of the hill and I looked around but I didn’t see the train.
I never hit the brakes. I was listening to the music, thinking about my grocery list, thinking about nothing. I saw everything. I saw the lights. I saw the trees on either side of the road, blocking the view of that section of the track, I saw that there was nothing in front of me but road.
I kept going. As I neared the intersection, I looked to my left. No train.
I hit the tracks and all of the sound came back into the world. I heard the bells clanging, I heard the train, I heard a horn.
At that moment, I realized three things.
- That particular railroad crossing doesn’t have a crossbar.
- I was going too fast to try to stop.
- No one has a key to my house.
I looked to my right as I was crossing the tracks.
The train yelled at me (honked? whistled?) again. I flew across the tracks about 50 yards in front of it and said a very bad word.
MoC had a little ornament that she kept in the useless drink holder. It is an angel with wings and it says “Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly.” Somehow that got overlooked when I was cleaning out the car.
I don’t know if MoC believed in guardian angels. I don’t know if I believe in them. What I do know is that I will never take that pin out of the car.