Wednesday was the feast of St Vincent de Paul. Most people have a passing familiarity with the name even if they aren’t Catholic– the Society of St Vincent de Paul is present almost everywhere, and they can be a major charitable force in the community (Just ask anyone in San Diego whether they know Fr. Joe).
I should know by now there is no such thing as coincidence, but the idea of the God wink is alive and well. One of the many things on my to do declutter list was to deal with an old car of ours. The transmission died a year or two ago and we’d been trying to offload it, without a great deal of success. It was not a burning need, just another tick list item to be dealt with.
Well, it wasn’t a burning need. That changed when they slapped the dreaded orange label on it, giving us three days to get the thing out of our lives or pay for the privilege. I knew from earlier forays into car disposal that St. VdeP would take the car, I just hadn’t ever gotten around to it– the piles of things inside took precedent. It was an utterly painless process– you tell them, you leave it for them, they take it and leave you the tax write off. No fuss, no muss.
Monday night, before they were hauling the thing away, my husband laid out the logistics and took my key. I handed it over with a steady hand but I apparently seemed slightly off because he just cocked his head and went “You’re not going all wibbly are you?” “Of course not! The thing hasn’t run in years and we’ve been trying to get rid of it. What’s there to get wibbly about?”
And that’s the sensible answer. Its also true, at least in part. It was a bit of a terrible car; it ran for about 3 or 4 years before entirely crapping out while I was driving to work. I nearly got run over by a giant F350 who couldn’t handle how slowly I was going, stuck in my little lemon of a roller skate in first gear. I didn’t have a great deal of love for the thing.
But for the times the thing reminded me of? That was more complicated.
The dent in the roof reminded me of college, when someone fell on the roof of the car while climbing a tree and dented it but good.
There were the jelly beans that were embedded in the upholstery from a previous owner with a more than mild obsession with the candy.
There was the fact that this was the first car that was mine. Not shared, not borrowed, MINE. I had never had the freedom to run to the store or go somewhere without a thousand and one logistics. It was this:
I’m hardly the first to feel that way. And nearly 8 years to the day after I first found a modicum of freedom, I had to give that symbol away. On the day before the feast of the Saint whose legacy is generosity to others. If there had to be a way for it to go, that’s a pretty good one.