Car Wash

Photo by Yogi Purnama on Unsplash

I have a membership at a car wash.It’s a small business that does a pretty good job of clearing my car of grime and every single piece of random detritus my kids have decided to dump into the car. Old Lego pieces (son), stickers (daughter), ketchup packets (again daughter), fast food paper towels (me).The car goes in, looking tired and a tad shamefaced.
From the point of view of the human vacuum cleaner, constantly whooshing behind my kids, I am so elated to hand over the cleaning to someone else for a change.I practically throw the keys in the carwash staff’s faces, before scurrying away to the cool, dark lobby, where I nurse an iced latte.
An hour later, I pick it up – bright, shiny and smelling of God’s nectar (cinnamon spice flavor, for those interested).I tip generously as the cleaning attendant and I exchange rueful glances and marvel at the Pile of Crap they fished out of my car. And finally, I drive away, with the rooftop visor down (mom version of that convertible glamor) and music blaring from the tinny speakers.

I think about that Pile of Crap.Memories and moments looking at me through the clear plastic of the trash bag.That cheap slinky my daughter insisted she couldn’t live without. The Lego airplane my son built painstakingly on a long drive to the speech therapist.Random artwork, done with passion and forgotten about in that huge valley between the booster seats.Lollipops and paper boats, French fries and empty cups. All momentarily a part of our day, forgotten once their purpose has been served. Beautiful, perfect minutes, now lying, unloved, in someone else’s trash.Its both ordinary and tragic, the speed at which we fly through life, writing new experiences over the same pages.
So I take a deep breath and turn the car around.At the car wash, the salespeople look at me like I’m crazy. I don’t blame them; I feel particularly eccentric too.But finally, the attendant who cleaned my car takes me to the cleaning floor.I look around worriedly and I spot it with relief.The big trash bag, sitting forlornly with a dozen of its siblings.And as he smiles, I reach in and grab what I came for.I walk away hurriedly, leaving behind some very amused employees.

Pulling into my driveway, I start crying. Then laughing.My shiny car regards me with some concern.I reassure it that actually, I’m feeling quite marvelous.I walk inside, the misshapen slinky, the Lego airplane clutched tightly in my hands.Maybe tomorrow’s trash.But tonight, for a few long hours, they’re precious again.

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