The next chapter in my life…

This is hard for me to say out loud, and it’s twice as hard for me to talk about on the blog, especially when anyone out there who reads this blog – and who has read it for the past three and a half years – might think that everything is going well, and has been going well for the past year or two.

Well, things aren’t going well.  And I have to make a decision – tell everybody about what’s going on, or keep quiet about the whole thing.

Forget keeping quiet.  I didn’t get a blog so I could keep quiet about anything in my life.

Let me explain.  And maybe by explaining, I think I have a way to make things right.

A while back, we met for the first time.  And I was on the rebound from a previous “I thought it would last forever” relationship, and I thought this new prospect would work out.  And it did at first.  It worked out better than I cold have ever imagined, ever in my wildest dreams.

We went on many trips together.  Drove to the New York State Fair.  Drove to the Big E.  Drove one route up through the North Country and drove home through another route.  I drove to places I hadn’t visited in ages.  I confided my secrets, expecting nothing more than a sounding board.  I didn’t need advice or pep talks.  I just needed dedication and commitment.

But over time, I realized that there were more important things.  And that our relationship, while it looked great on the outside, was less than pleasant in private.  Sometimes it just didn’t feel right.  And sometimes it just felt completely wrong.

So many people have told me that I shouldn’t talk about this.  That I should just keep my mouth closed and move on.

And I tried to.  I really, really, really tried to just go with the flow.

But I couldn’t.  Things were happening that made apprehensive about our connection.  And maybe in my heart of hearts, what I thought was a perfect match was not perfect after all.  That we just weren’t meant to be together, and that we should go our separate ways.  I can’t get  emotionally attached and not receive a significant amount of reciprocal emotional attachment, and I guess I finally realized that there will never ever be that reciprocal emotional attachment.

So that’s when I made the decision.  It hurt at first, it hurt like using a Brillo pad as an exfoliant.

Realistically, I’ve had to move on.  And the relationship I previously had, I have to realize that there has to be a new chapter in my life.  And I hope that years from now, I hope that this separation can become a positive moment for all concerned.

Because I’m looking elsewhere.  My heart says stop, don’t do this.  Things will work out.

But my brain says that I should stop thinking with my heart.  Because thinking with my heart only gets it broken every time.

That’s right, dear readers.  This is a break-up post.  And I’m breaking up…

with Cardachrome.

You’re not seeing things.  After three years together (and actually paying it off a year in advance of my car loan), my 2005 Saturn Ion that I’ve nicknamed “Cardachrome” is going to be traded in for a new car.

The issues between me and Cardachrome have grown of late, grown from middling annoyances to genuine safety concerns.  Over the last few months, Cardachrome has developed a nasty electrical problem which may or may not be repairable.  I’ll start the car and the gas gauge won’t budge, despite the fact that I packed it with fuel the day before.  The next time I start the car, the gas gauge works properly, but the radio’s acting flaky – it won’t let me change channels or switch to the CD player.  The next day, the radio’s fine, but the speedometer isn’t working.  And no, I can’t use the excuse “But officer, I was only going zero miles per hour…”

And then I’ll start the car, and it will drive for a while – and then just shut off for no reason.  I’ve had that happen three times to me – the last time was a week ago, right in the middle of rush hour traffic on 787; I was barely able to get safely to the side of the road before the car just froze up.  I counted to ten, re-started the car and all was fine.  It’s almost like Cardachrome was teasing me, threatening me, saying, “One day I’m going to break down at the worst possible time in your life, Chuck, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.  I’ll wait until you have to be someplace important, and I just won’t work.  And if you try to take me to a repair shop, they’ll never find the problem and they’ll bill you a ton of money for not finding it.  And then on the way home, I’ll just conk out again… just to mess with your mind.”

I’m sure the problem can be fixed.  I’m sure that it’s an easy fix.

Problem is, I’ve lost trust in Cardachrome.  And I can’t keep driving a car in which I’ve lost confidence.  I did that with my 1991 Pontiac 6000, driving it until it hit a triple whammy failure of the EGR module, the radiator and the fuel line.  Denial can’t just be a river in Egypt, and I can’t be sailing like a Pharaoh oblivious to the holes in my barge.

So yesterday, after much shopping around and consultation with my friends, I put a down payment on a new car.  And this time it won’t be a car that I assumed control of to keep my sainted Grandma Betty from driving (in Massachusetts, you can have cataracts AND a valid driver’s license), and this new car won’t be a car I bought “on the rebound” because the car I received from my grandmother finally gave up the ghost.  I’ve spent several months looking at various cars and various models – General Motors, of course, this new car HAS to be of GM heritage.  I’ll tell you more about the car in a future blog post, but suffice it to say that this may be, by choice, the last car I’ll ever own.

And you’re probably thinking, “Chuck, after all you went through with Cardachrome, you’re just going to send your Saturn away?”

Well… yeah, kinda.

Look, I don’t need two cars.  You can only drive one car at a time.  And for the nearly three years I’ve had Cardachrome, I’ve had some great adventures with it.  I’ve driven to the North Country and through New England and into the Maritimes.  Heck, my first true “road trip” with Cardachrome was a week after I got it, I drove to Quebec City for a Premier Basketball League game and photographed Destination Voyage Rouge et Bleu, my Kodachrome photo of evening light trails along Rue St-Louis.

I’ve driven down to New York City several times in Cardachrome in the hope of finally breaking through to the Chance.  I’ve driven to Buffalo and photographed Niagara Falls.  I’ve driven to Halifax and photographed the lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove.  And I’ve driven to Boston and photographed a butterfly slurping on an orange slice.

I’ve hauled many of my artworks and photos and Dream Windows in Cardachrome, and I’ve even filmed myself driving through a horrendous thunderstorm with Cardachrome safely guiding me home.

It’s the same thing I went through three years ago with the Pontiac 6000.  Only with the “6”, I was working with an 18-year-old car and the parts were showing their age.  Come on, I was expecting that a car old enough to legally vote could keep on going and keep on rolling, probably longer than it should have.  But it was my car, not a car that I had to share with someone else.  My car.

But Cardachrome’s maddening electrical issue has changed my opinion of the Saturn Ion from “I heart you” to “I like you” to “So it’s come down to this…”  And trust me.  Whenever I use the words, “So it’s come down to this…” it means that the relationship is over.  Say something nice on the way out, wish the best, and move on.

Trust me.  I wanted to make this car last long enough so that in the summer of 2013, I would drive across this great nation of ours, visit my daughter Cassaundra in Washington State, had her the car keys and say, “Here’s your new car.  Its name is Cardachrome.  Change its oil every 3000 miles and it’s yours.”

But I couldn’t.  I wasn’t sure the car would survive the journey, and even so, what kind of parent would I have been to drop off a faulty car on my daughter?

No.  It’s time for me to invest in a new car.

Besides… it’s not like my life is ending just cause I’m parting ways with Cardachrome.

My life is just entering another chapter.  A chapter with a brand new car.  And if this new car gets to a milestone number on the odometer and I’m still driving it, then I’ll give it a nickname.  Just like I gave meaningful nicknames to my previous two meaningful vehicles.

It’s another journey in my life.  Come ride in the front passenger seat, put on your safety belt, and let’s drive.