-- Ed the Car Salesman (Vacation, 1983)
Work has been picking up nicely for me lately. Because of my increasingly crazy schedule during the week with Erik's school and physical therapy on top of my sometimes unpredictable work load, I have been trying to accomplish more without finding regular care for him. As he ages, this seems to get slightly easier, although he has learned the phrases, "Mama, come here, please" and "Mama, watch this," so things can be a bit challenging at times. Especially since naps are slowly becoming a thing of the past. Luckily, my work hours are extremely flexible!
Erik and I have been frequently taking trips to the eye clinic to pick up the medical reports on tape that I sometimes transcribe in the afternoon. It's a challenge taking him with me, but I am learning some tricks to get him in and out of the building without too much trouble, and, as hard as it is, the process doesn't depress me as much as it used to. The days of lugging a floppy baby into the building are gone. I have learned to carry as little as possible and one day found myself wondering aloud if purchasing some sort of sheep dog to herd my child in the direction we need to go in a timely matter would be out of the question. Erik and I are both out and about in the world a lot these days, and although the going is very slow and sometimes very frustrating at times with his awkward, distracted tripping/falling and need to formally greet each and every single-celled organism that flutters by, I do admit that I enjoy the heck out of it. No, it's not easy looking professional exchanging medical documents with clinical staff while my child is loudly proclaiming his love of monster trucks, but, for the most part, he seems to brighten every room we enter and leaves a wake of genuinely surprised smiles. As Erik ages, his differences are becoming very obvious to the outside world, and the most notable response has been an increase in the number of people in his fan club.
One gorgeous fall day not long ago, Erik and I were pulling into the medical center parking lot, and I heard him emit one of his breathy, high-pitched gasps. The kind that make me whirl around to see if he has something becoming lodged in his throat. I turned my head as our Jeep rolled into our parking spot and saw what he was admiring not far from us. I blinked and scanned the immediate area before glancing into the back seat to confirm he was looking the same direction. And he was. What he was reacting to sat there. It was a glorious tribute to the 1970s.
It was a Ford Torino station wagon, much like this one:
Not the bitchin' GRAN Torino, like Starsky and Hutch had, but a giant, green station wagon. I have never seen my son react to any vehicle other than ones adorned with lights and sirens in this manner before. He began to chant, "Go look at it! Go look at it!" Slightly confused, I gathered my things, and we made our way towards it.
It was even more massive than it looked from across the parking lot. It was a real boat. I firmly believe that a car like this should automatically play its own theme song. It dwarfed the sleek, fuel-efficient four-wheel drive models that filled the rest of the parking lot, and it wasn't about to begin to apologize for doing so. The metallic pea-colored paint was oxidizing to an almost lovely opalescent sheen of decay before our eyes, and a piece of the metal trim had separated itself from the body of the car like an errant whisker. Unable to control my curiosity, I peeked inside the cavernous interior and instantly remembered the time my little brother and I rode down the Southern California freeways years ago sprawled in the back of my great-uncle's Country Squire station wagon on the way to Disneyland. Air bags were unheard of back then. If you had an accident, you were very efficiently ejected through massive windshields. In fact, I still have a puffy scar on my knee from cutting it open on the underside of a dashboard as I opened a door to get out of a vehicle manufactured in the 1970s. You can't cut yourself on a car these days if you tried. This particular station wagon looked as if it required a tetanus shot to ride in, and I felt wistfully nostalgic. This car was missing the charm of the faux wood paneling I remembered, but it had drawn Erik into its glory, anyway. I looked down and saw him bending at the waist to carefully inspect the tires, which were mounted on wheels painted the same shade of pea green.
My boy was in love.
He threw an absolute hissy fit when I told him it was time for us to head inside to pick up work, but by the time he saw the women behind the desk in one of the offices, he was happily announcing his passionate feelings for the ominous slab of Detroit steel sitting outside waiting for its owner.
"I LOVE STATION WAGONS!"
I sheepishly giggled and explained what we had seen in the parking lot. The girl at the front window turned scarlet and muttered that it belonged to a friend of hers but that she drives it to work sometimes.
This week I noted she has driven it almost every day and parks it right in front to greet us as we pull into the lot. I leave the house five minutes early these days in case it is there. Each and every time we spot it, I gather my things and walk towards it to pay it a visit with my boy.