In my earliest days, I remember family road trips. We were always making our way to a highway. Heading up or heading down the New Jersey Turnpike, or it’s parallel artery, 295, to save toll money for part of the way in either direction.
There were a few landmarks that signaled critical stages in our journey. Often inverted. The truck stop at the intersection of 295 and The NJTPK for example, was a welcome sign on our way home (less than a half hour until we’re home) but a reminder that we had more ahead of us than behind us on our way out.
One of the most memorable for me? This beautiful, bright, canary yellow two door sports car parked just after the first left turn we made on our way out and just before the last right turn we made ahead of our driveway.
On Warwick Road.I
There was no internet then. So the first time I learned the name was when I could drive, could stop on the road myself, and walk up and read the plates.
As non living things go, I don’t think I’ve loved or appreciated anything more than that Volkswagen Karmann Ghia.
When I graduated college and wanted my first car, that was the one. My dad hated it. My mom and dad fought about my impractical decision for months. I just wanted to buy it.
I mean folks, tears were shed. Poured onto tabletops, newspaper classifieds, and everywhere in between.
My dad wasn’t having it.But there’s one power stronger than a dad not having it.
That’s a mom not having a dad not having it.
I showed up one weekend and stepped into the garage only to see that car there. Waiting for me. My mom. Bought it with the money she made at TJ Max as a side hustle.
I saw something bright yellow flash by me this mornnng. It was a stencil on the trailer of a truck. Every time I see that yellow, I think of that car. I think of my mom.
Yellow is a bright happy color. It’s my runaway favorite. But the happiness it brings me isn’t chemical, it isn’t Coldplay or Pearl Jam, it’s associated to this car.
We ran that car into the ground. I donated it to a charity and it raised a good few grand for kids developmental needs and educational needs.I was moving to Chicago. I had no place for it.
That gift still gives me infinite joy. And I don’t even own it anymore. Who says cars are a depreciating asset?
Everytime I see yellow. I think of that car. I think of my mom. And now…as of this morning, I remembered my job as a parent. Is to bring that joy to my kids. The pandemic has made it hard. Life makes it hard. But if we’re open to being reminded that we can do better, well, we’ll get better.
I still follow these around the country. One day. When the kids are past high school. I’ll put one back in our garage.