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Beauty in the Ride

My dad parted with my college car recently. Sold the thing. Which is like saying my dad parted with his left leg. Or a certain plaid shirt. Or saying my dad parted with anything.

But when he mentioned it yesterday–a nonchalant aside–I could feel the sentiment in the words he wasn’t saying. This wasn’t just my old car, the one that had hogged yard space by my parent’s driveway for a decade. The one my dad had agreed to buy before I even said I’d sell it. Or just the stick-shift that could still gimp out 39 mpg, and wring your soul out praying aloud for a miracle, on the crest of a Seattle hill.

This car had something. And yet it had nothing.

No way was it fun to twist around to lock each door with a far-reaching finger. Or convenient to lean into the backseat to hand-crank a window down an inch or five. Or unexasperating to stare at its cassette player with a cd in your hand.

But the thing had memories under its timing belt.

Cross-country trips.

Like the one my sister and I took. Oklahoma to Washington. Ten-hour days behind the wheel, hanging a foot out the passenger window, talking of nothing or anything, and clawing on each other’s final nerve right up until The Grand Canyon. Which changed us. That big chasm. That awe-inspiring crack in the ground that squashed our own petty chasm. Right there.

Or the one my dad took, bringing my car home the second time–Oklahoma to Washington–by himself. And how he put a hand on my shoulder in the driveway and thanked me sincerely for asking HIM to do that. Graciously thanked me for the privilege (as if there was even a second person I could have asked). And so I’d shrugged an embarrassed “you’re welcome,” because I didn’t understand…then.

Didn’t understand that my dad is journey-minded. That his hands on the steering wheel, eyes on the map mean he’s alive. Not wasting four days of his life. But truly Living. Breathing. Fully alive. 

I’m a little late to the insight. But thanks, Dad. Thanks for finding the value in the trip itself–every trip–regardless of the wheels you’ve got or where you’re headed.

It’s a legacy I’ll remember.

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