THE BLOG
07/31/2015 01:08 pm ET Updated Jul 31, 2016

Ode to the Three-Car Year

There are times in life when the universe is writing a technical manual for you and the meter and rhyme of the poetry seems to elude you. Maybe an epic narrative is just beginning to unfold yet it is only with some distance of time when you can appreciate its scope.

I was in the throws of separation and divorce and faced with some very practical challenges; finding work, finding enough work and learning to be a single parent again. Enough for any person. So the last thing I needed was a light on the dash board of my 95 Saab, my second car of the year, informing me that I needed to fill my coolant. Each day for a week this lovely little message spoke to me like some guru..." Wonderful earth child we must remain cool." Dutifully I bowed beneath the hood of the car to fill it up first with antifreeze and when there was not money for antifreeze, with water; a poor man's anointment. Fortunately, this was August and every reliable source told me this was okay.

The ink was drying on my divorce decree. The water pump was in the back seat of my car. The appointment to replace the water pump was in three days when I was driving down our local route 2 and something from the road kicked up under my car and punched a hole in my radiator. I was near enough to a car dealership to limp my car into their parking lot; my car peeing fluid all over their parking lot. One tow to the mechanic at the other end of my dirt road, one long walk back home and soon I would be rolling pennies so I could make a full reckoning of my available assets.

There were not many assets. I had just started at my bookstore job, 10 hours a week. I had a modest amount of temporary spousal support which covered basic expenses. I had a little cash saved from hauling hay for a local farmer. I could sell my engagement and wedding band.

I was too stressed at the time to find the humor in the sum total of 160.00 I received for those rings. But at the time it was enough to purchase a used radiator. A loan from a friend helped me cover the costs of repair and I was gratefully able to drive the car again.

For about 4 days...

When suddenly that coolant guru started getting a little preachy. A return trip to the mechanic revealed that while they did, in fact, replace the radiator, they had not replaced the old hoses and one had started to leak. While in the process of replacing the hose a piece of my used radiator came off in the mechanic's hand. My used radiator had been glued at some point either before purchase at the used parts place or at the mechanic's. There was no more money to fix the car and not enough coolant in the world to prevent a total death spasm. Apparently, that little guru had become a fundamentalist.

Ever try to get a car loan when you haven't worked in over 7 years and you're living on 1,100 dollars a month? The car dealer was at least kind enough not to laugh. I am forever grateful to my aunt and uncle who loaned me the money for the little Subaru I drive now. However, Susie Subaru and I did not get started on the the road to happy motoring very well. One month after acquiring the car it made a horrible noise, started spewing smoke and leaking oil.

It turned out to be a bad timing belt ( you're telling me!) and a little rubber gasket somewhere in the engine. Fortunately, I was able to afford this fix -- a confidence boost I really needed at the time.

So it was with utter hilarity that, not one month later, I found myself on an early December evening standing by the side of the road, glass from my sideview mirror under foot.

A deer, big beautiful buck, more than likely in rut, cruising along a well trod deer trail ran out of the dark at a great rate of speed and ran into my car. My passenger side mirror hung by wire. There was a dent in the back door. My younger son was stunned out of slumber. Any guy in rural Maine wants to know, was the deer lying in the road and do I need help butchering it? Alas, no. "Parting is such sweet..."

It was just one little sign from the universe that every good epic needs a strong ending.