They say "you never forget your first." And I certainly never will, in the context of what most people are discussing when that phrase comes up. But, I've experienced so many "firsts" in these last few months, I really just almost can't keep track.
There was the first time someone referred to me as "a widow" and it hit me that now I have yet another label. And I really hate labels. I will never refer to myself as a "widow." I hate the way it sounds. It's like "cancer patient." It makes me sound too much like a "victim of fate." And I refuse to EVER be that. If I can't catch what life tosses at me, and hit it in the eye when I toss it back, just shoot me.
The first time I went grocery shopping to shop only for myself. Ever. In my entire life. I have always lived with someone else. Parents, husbands, friends...and I really had no clue what *I* really wanted to eat. I had always chosen foods that I knew the people I lived with would enjoy. When I finally made it up to the counter, I was exhausted. I'd put stuff into my basket, then taken it out when I realized I didn't really want that, or sometimes even like it much. Then I had to reshop for what suited my taste buds. It was lovely to buy Chinese food and chocolate Cheerios, spinach pizzas and cucumbers. And know that if I wanted to eat them all in the same night nobody was going to be shaming me or making gagging sounds.
Another surprising first was when I sat down to watch TV and didn't have to ask "what are you in the mood for?" You can't imagine the number of movies and shows I took off of the "pending" list. Stuff I knew I would never sit through and no longer had a reason to.
Some of the "firsts" were sad. The first holiday alone. The first Valentine's Day, when everyone was posting photos of their presents and dates. And I didn't have a prospect looming. Some of the firsts were happy ones, like the first time I woke up and realized I was actually glad that I had. There had been so many days in the last few years when I woke up almost in tears realizing what the day was likely to bring.
This last week brought even more new experiences. My dishwasher (and it's surprising me how easily I stopped saying "we" and "our" and became an "I" and "my" kinda gal) died and I had to choose the replacement. Although I had tried to believe that I had had input in choices in the past, I realized as I stood there pondering the features of the ones in my price range, I really hadn't. It was rather empowering to make the decision and hand over the debit card to pay for it. (It was delivered a couple of hours ago. I can't wait to get it hooked up and running. Not sure if that's going to be another "first" plumbing experience or if Joel can get away to come take care of it.)
I decided I wanted to get a bike and see if that would hurt my knee as badly as walking does. I headed to Craigslist where I didn't find a bike but did see an adult tricycle that piqued my interest. I checked on eBay and discovered that the one I'd seen was priced way below value. She was a 1970s model Vista. Very collectible. So, I hopped in the car and headed to Huntsville to get her. I named her Sapphire on the way home. I still haven't had time to ride her (ok, you caught me, she is still riding around in the back of the Kia. She's going to the empty garage this afternoon...oh yeah, that was another "first." I sold "Maggie" the streetrod, the first time I'd ever sold a car on my own.)
Thursday night I did something I should have absolutely known better than to do. I went to an auction alone. Everyone who has ever gone to an auction with me, or discussed them with me, knows that I have a health condition called "helium hand" that gets me into an awful lot of trouble when something is about to go under the hammer at a price I know is very cheap. I've purchased 20 tie downs for pickups because they were just $1 apiece and I knew they sold for $10 apiece. I didn't have a truck, didn't have anything that was about to fly away, but up went my hand when the auctioneer did his last call. They've come in very handy over the years and I never regretted my purchase, but it did get me a stern talking to from my husband at the time.
My biggest auction faux paux was when I went to a horse auction "just to see what they are bringing" and ended up buying my "first" horse since I was a kid. This wouldn't have been a really big deal *IF* I hadn't been an hour from home, in a station wagon. My friend Brenda showed her true colors when she and her husband headed out into the night pulling their horse trailer and delivered Story to my pasture. I will never forget her for that (or the numerous other times she stepped up to the plate as a 'true friend.' I've never thought I deserved her. I hope to someday.)
Knowing my history, having been there when it happened, I should have known better than to go to the car auction "just to see what cars are bringing." I blame my friends. Friends don't let auction-aholics go to auctions alone. Of course, I didn't tell anyone I was going. (That's been a whole new feeling for me too. To be able to drop everything and go and do as I please without telling anyone. In a way it's a sad feeling, in another, very freeing.) But, that doesn't excuse them. I refuse to take all the blame myself.
I went there specifically to purchase a Jeep Liberty. I love them. Think they are the cutest cars on the road...well, the 2003 to 2007 models, not any of the later ones in my opinion. Next cutest is Kia Sportage, but they wouldn't pull a trailer and that was my sole reason for looking for something new. So I could pull a little trailer to auctions WITH FRIENDS and maybe pick up some furniture to resell.
There were three Libertys. I test drove all three and none of them were good enough to fool with. You know when you buy at an auction there's a good chance it has an issue, but sometimes it's just a nice trade-in from someone who trades fairly often. I was getting ready to go home when I wandered into the second building of the auction and the auctioneer was having a hard time getting anyone to bid. Once someone started the bidding, it was like priming a pump, the bids would be off and running. I watched for a while, amused at human nature. The last of the Libertys was coming up shortly and I decided to stay and see how much it brought. A big black pimp daddy Ford Expedition rolled in. Shiny, tinted windows, black on black. Very hot looking. And nobody would bid. The starting bid was something like 1/8th of its value. I looked around, surprised that nobody was starting it. I had looked at these before decided I absolutely didn't need anything that big, and I knew they were really pricey. I tapped my toe wishing someone would hurry up so the Liberty could come in. Finally I said "oh fine," and threw my hand up in the air to make the starting bid. And then crickets. No one else bid. And I am now the proud owner of a big black pimp daddy Expedition. I just stood there in shock. The bid-taker came over and patted me on the shoulder and said "go right over there little lady and pick up your ticket." I nodded. "I know, I've been coming here for over 50 years." But, I'd certainly never done anything THIS stupid. I knew absolutely nothing about the vehicle. Except that it was a big honking thing I wasn't even sure I could drag myself up into.
Luckily, I had money with me from a trailer I'd sold (money that was supposed to go elsewhere) so I could pay for the damned thing. Usually I have to scrape change out of the seat to buy a soft drink. I NEVER carry money with me. But, I had barely enough to pay for the car, tax, title and walk out with my dignity intact. I walked with great fear out to where they park the sold vehicles. There she sat, sparkling at me. I swear she was grinning. I'm pretty sure the Universe was twinkling a little too. I however, remained unamused.
I pulled myself up (thank God there were running boards, I wouldn't have to buy a stepladder to carry with me) and sat there for a minute trying hard not to picture my dad twirling around in his grave that I'd been so stupid. I could almost hear him "did you hear nothing I ever told you?" as I recalled the 20 years I spent with him, in his body shop and traveling to car sales around the southeast. And now I'd done the unthinkable, bid on and purchased a pig in a poke. I turned the key and the engine started right up. Sounds like a lifter making a racket, but that's a cheap fix. Yah, a lot of miles, but you have to expect that in a car 8 years old. I turned on the AC and it threw snowballs at me (a car dealer term for "really cold air comes out.") Not as many miles as I'd feared. The radio sounded amazing and I noticed it had a multi-CD player. Lots of buttons I'd wait for daylight to check out.
I went back to my little dented Kia (that someone had made an offer on the minute I drove it into the lot, go figure) and headed for home. The next morning, I had a friend carry me down to pick up the black behemoth. I was hoping I wouldn't see in morning light that she'd been wrecked and repainted badly etc. Hard to see that stuff by artificial light. In daylight, she looked quite beautiful. When I got in, I noticed even more buttons than I'd seen last night. I could push a button and have my gas pedal go up or down to fit my foot. I had front and rear air conditioning. There was a button to push for third row seats to pop up out of the floor. Jacks everywhere for charging phones and tablets. I looked up and gasped. Electric sunroof. AND a DVD entertainment center that dropped down from the roof at the...yes...push of a button. Electric everything. I'd been in fancy cars before, but...well, my mind was blown.
I drove her home and fell in love. It was like driving an 18-wheeler, I was looking down on everyone. I felt safe and secure, and very very comfortable. Leather seats that fit me like a glove made me wonder if I should consider sleeping in her that night. She got me home, but she's going to need some motor work. Even so, I came out way ahead. I won't have spent more than I'd planned on spending on something a LOT older/smaller/less comfy/less safe. At least ONE of my "firsts"...the "first" big mistake I made all on my own, the "first" time I bought a car on my own, my "first" luxury vehicle...has been something I will absolutely never forget and I expect her to be a constant companion as I start going on all these trips that fill my Bucket List.
She still needs a name though. Suggestions?
THAT'S MY STORY
I've never been normal. I've never tried to be. I can't imagine anything more boring.
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