Thoughts: A Weakness for Quirks

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It’s been a busy week.

I have a love/hate thing with busy. Part of me loves the excitement of cramming it all in, constantly adjusting to ever-changing demands and deadlines, “making it work” when there is not enough time to make it work.  But another part of me hates not having the down time that keeps me mentally, emotionally and spiritually healthy.  Fortunately, this week slows down.

My son is up from Florida. He is up here for a couple of weeks, after a year in Florida. He’s been taking note of the changes in the household since he was last here a year ago. And a lot has changed. My bride has moved in, with some of her things moving in with her. Rooms have been repurposed and rearranged. We’ve bought some new things for the house.

One thing that has not changed is the old Isuzu Trooper I drive around. I’ve driven Troopers since before my kids were born (and my oldest is 25). The one I have now is eighteen years old and is likely the last one I will own. They stopped making them in 2004, and ones with 100,000 miles or less are hard to find. Mine has 171,000 miles. Repairs become harder because parts are sometimes hard to come by. Fortunately, there’s a fair number of us who love the old things, so while the parts can be hard to get, they are not impossible. Just slow.

In a lot of ways, there is nothing special about Troopers. It’s a big square box of a vehicle.  Four wheel drive. The old kind that you turn on and off when you need it. It’s a little top heavy. Built like a tank, it kinda drives like one. By today’s standards, gas mileage is rotten. It’s hell on brakes. Did I mention it is a big square box? No fashion awards for this thing. And aerodynamic engineers probably wince thinking about it.  Diving on a windy day, the Trooper is pushed around and back and forth.

Strangely, a lot of its flaws are part of why I like it. Big and boxy means it can hold an amazing amount of stuff. I’ve moved kids to and from college many times and having the trooper meant more stuff for them in their temporary homes.  I’ve bought furniture that had no possibility of coming back with me without a trailer, and just stuffed it in the back without thinking about it, Of course it can fit. It’s a Trooper.

It has amazing windows. Big square windows all around. You can see everything. Great vision when you are on the road and great vision when you are sightseeing with your camera. I love being able to see everything when I drive. It makes my convertible seem downright claustrophobic (when the top is up.).

But honestly, the real reason I love it is because of memories. My kids and I have had a lot of adventures in this old SUV. Long trips. Driving in snow we probably should have stayed in for. Emergencies. I had one go up in flames on I-95 once.  I used one to help my kids, each in their own time, escape and come live with me. Like I said, I’ve driven one since before they were born and they associate Troopers with me.

The biggest memory though has nothing to do with Troopers. You see, the Trooper drives and rides like my grandfather’s old red International Pickup. That was the pickup he drove when I was a kid. Basic transportation, but to a suburb kid in an age before pickups had gone mainstream, it was a piece of exotica, a wondrously different kind of vehicle in the wondrously different rural world he lived in,

He drove slow in that faded red truck, taking in the countryside. You didn’t just see the country, with the windows rolled down (Literally, no electric windows then.), you smelled the earth, smelled the coming rain. felt the air. I get in the Trooper. I feel his presence and I slow down and take in the farms and valleys of my adopted home here in Vermont.

And the Trooper, literally every time I get in it, brings all that back by the way it drives and feels. It’s like part of his lives every time I get in it and toddle off somewhere.  You can’t get that in a shiny new techno-mobile of today.

Nothing lasts forever. The day will come when I can’t’ find one or fix one. I know that. But for now, just as the past twenty-five years or so, I will savor my old four-wheel box with all its quirks and flaws.

The truth is, I have a weakness for quirks and flaws. In things. In people. After a lot of years coming to grips with it, with myself. Quirks make us interesting. Flaws make us real. It allows grace to work. In their own way, quirks and flaws give us character, and character is everything.

Even in old Isuzu Troopers.

Be well. Travel wisely,

Tom

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