Present Perfect

In Practice, Production on February 7, 2011 at 10:00 am

The good news: Molly passes her exam. More or less. At the first attempt a problem with her left rear breaks is identified. K takes her to a garage in Gibraltar and she is fitted with new break shoes for a sum of money that stings but doesn’t kill. The day after that she is issued with her ITV, certifying her for another year on the road and another year with us.

I’m well aware that my attachment to a Fiat Seicento could keep a therapist in beer tokens for months but I’m not ready to face my demons just yet and feel an overwhelming relief that I won’t have to.

Once again a new pair of shoes appears to have been the remedy. That happens when there are women in your life. If I’m being sexist you’re just going to have to forgive me. I’m not trying to make any value judgements here; I’m just saying there seem to be an awful lot of shoes involved.

An awful lot.

And the bad news: the day after proudly receiving her certificate (picture her why don’t you, wearing her little mortarboard) Molly’s clutch fails.

The day after.

I am not shitting you.

When the clutch goes on what is basically a hairdryer with a roof then that is generally it. Game over. That evening I hold a tearful K close, imagining she shares my daft anguish at the loss of our little girl.

“If only I’d known I’d never have spent that two hundred quid”, she finally emits between sobs.

She can be a hard woman at times.

So that’s that – we now have to scramble around for a new car and quickly. I’m not as emotional as I would have expected – these are just machines no matter how much of our pet related grief we pour into the tank. In a way there is some closure here (although I do struggle when I picture Molly in a lock-up in Gibraltar, waiting to be scrapped) – it is time for the trappings of our life to be the trappings of our new life.

Everything we’ve done has been voluntary and in the spirit of venture, but it isn’t easy abandoning the fixtures and fittings of the past. We miss this, that. Important people who were in constant touch are now in sporadic touch or none at all. Familiar arrangements have given way to a series of mundane puzzles. Making a phone call can be a big deal. Everything can seem a struggle. There is a grieving process and not just for lost lagomorphs.

Misplaced devotion to relics of a life left behind is therefore, quite literally, a drag. We are hurtling – there isn’t time for the backward glance. All available energy must be directed toward the here and now, plans, irregular verbs; we are taking Spanish lessons.

We aren’t that bad any more. K is a little resistant to speaking and I am a little resistant to learning but apart from that we’re beginning to get a grip.

Grip is what it’s all about. Traction; a hold on the language, on our hopes, on our fears, on the steering wheel. Hankering for the lost, hoping for the not-yet-found; these are mental traps, seductive but illusory distractions. Depleters.

The here and now – how easily we neglect it, imagining ourselves to be “on our way” or “recovering from” or some such when all we are is here, now. Hurtling, hurdling, the air rushing past us. A race we must run – without wheels – on our own four feet. Good break shoes and strong lungs. To run as fast as we can but delay crossing the line for as long as we can – that’s the game. This is one race where finishing is not necessarily the desired outcome.

Sooner or later, when a lifetime of wear and tear catches up with us, we will also give out – K’s clutch will fail or my exhaust will fall off (try not to picture that). In the meantime this is all there is. No beginnings and no endings.

 Just the air, rushing.

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  1. Oh, poor Molly. I don’t like to think of her locked up awaiting scrapping either.
    Here’s to not reaching that finishing line for quite a while. I’m pretty sure you can keep going after your exhaust falls off, but you’d be awfully loud.

  2. Oh no, You can’t have Molly scrapped. Can’t you keep her in your garden (do you have one?) or on your terrace and plant flowers in her windows? And, always the glamour granny….did her shoes have heels????

  3. I like Inka’s idea! I’m sure you can find some way to keep her as a work of art. Thanks for the update on Molly (and shoes).

  4. Then a man walks up to the grieving couple and says in a dismissive tone “it’s fine, she’ll make a good lawn mower”.

  5. Well, here’s hoping your air keeps rushing!! 🙂
    No worries – you weren’t being sexist. My old car was a man, was never much use – and then he got stolen! That’s cars for you. Public transport, that’s what you need.

    • Public transport around here doesn’t live up to expectations if you come from Ireland – it’s reliable enough but there isn’t nearly enough of it!

  6. Ah, the twists and turns of this game we call life. I’d be sad about the money too and kicking myself. Those kinds of things happen all the time. Too bad about the lack of public transport. I really have enjoyed not having a car. I expect where you live is somewhat like the South Island of New Zealand here? Fairly few local buses in the little towns if any? And a small fortune for organized transport or taxis? We’re paying forty dollars to be taken to the start of and picked up from a hiking track that is only a ten minute drive from our hostel on Thursday. Sheesh!

    • Yes that’s just about the size of it. Car culture here still seems deeply entrenched. Outside the really major cities public transport is sparse and not cheap.

  7. So sorry about Molly. However, when reading your post I just had to LOL because such is the nature of life for us humans.

  8. Oh no! It sounded like Molly was out of the woods!

  9. I really enjoy your writing! Good story, sorry to hear about the car, but I’m sure it was meant to be and your new one will be great as well!

  10. Is there a dehumidifier or portable space heater big enough to fill the hole? I sure hope so.

    By the way, shame on you for writing well enough to make me feel GENUINE EMOTION about the passing of your Fiat. I feel a little violated, but in a good way.

    • I don’t think so, I really don’t. Sorry Harry. It could be that some bunny shopping is going to happen soon. K is making all sorts of not-so-subtle bunny buying noises. Sly little hints like “let’s get a bunny” and “I think we should get a bunny now”. I can’t put my finger on it but I think she wants a bunny.

      Sorry for violating you.

  11. I’m with Inka! You should re-purpose her somehow.

    This year of travel has been strange for me. In one way, I’ve lost my attachment to things because my desire to not carry around a heavy suitcase outweighs my desire to hold on. But there are a few bits and pieces that I treasure – not so much for what they are but for what they represent to me. Loosing them would feel like the loss of an important touch stone.

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