A Love Affair to Remember

Generally the things I write here serve some further purpose. It may not be an important purpose [ed note: it’s never an important purpose], but there is usually a theme, a resounding thought. The English teacher in me just can’t resist a thesis. Damn, I love a good thesis.

But this serves no further function than to simply say that I fell in love this weekend. He was smaller than I expected and definitely not my type. He was a red Fiat and I picked him up at Enterprise rent-a-car, where they give you the tools to be your own boss.

I’ve always considered myself to be an “SUV girl.” It is a trait I have put an odd amount of pride in. In high school, we girls signified how cool we were by tearing into the parking lot in our 4-Runners and Ford Explorers. I signified how extra cool I was by always, always being three minutes late to first period. You wanted a slightly older model, usually a little dirty, to imply that you had possibly been “mudding” in the recent past. Texas public high schools are governed by a very specific set of social laws. In middle school, we did this with tennis shoes: you needed the latest pair of Nike Shox, but you needed to beat them up immediately, to show that you played basketball, like, all the time. Which I totally did. I am great at basketball: so good. I needed none of these falsities in The Fiat. It took me as I was.

Let’s start at the beginning of this epic, shall we? I flew to Grand Rapids, MI – which has an “International Airport” the size of your local mall – so that I could eventually make my way to Glen Arbor, MI – which is not a real place. No place that has a “lake” that looks like the Caribbean Ocean from afar and in which you can see straight down to your feet because the water is so clear, could possibly be real. I was on my way to see my Freshman year roommate (and dear friend – but it’s more fun to note that we were once strangers moving into a 8’ x 12’ cinder block room together) get married to my other good friend, her college sweetheart. Ithurtsitssocute.

Along the way, I had to change planes in scenic Detroit, MI. I was going to miss my connection, I knew it. I was sprinting through the Detroit airport (I mean, you know, stiff-arm-shuffle-running and then slowing down every time I hit a moving sidewalk) when, there he was: Jef with one F from The Bachelorette in all his petite-bodied, pompadour-haired, V-necked glory. I recognize this fellow, but cannot figure out why. Perhaps that is because I don’t watch The Bachelorette, but rather, readrecaps of it every week; I want to know what’s going on in pop culture, but you have to have nerves of steel to watch that show. It is physically painful to watch grown men compete for a date when they could just go on OK Cupid like everyone else. Nerves of STEEL.

I realize who he is just as I have already shuffle-run past, stop in my tracks, turn back around and hover near the water fountains until I spot Emily [There she is! She’s so pretty! She wears a lot of make up! She probably got used to doing that when she starred in her own TV show! Where grown men competed to date her! That could make any girl self conscious! I could probably stand to be wearing some more make up right now too! Oh look, they’re hugging! The really are in love! Maybe it will really work this time! Like Trisha and Ryan! I am 4 – 8 inches taller than both of them! Where is Ricki?!] Then, it’s crucial decision time. I think of all of my friends I’m about to see in Glen Arbor who love this show and would die if I got a picture of myself with these two. I glance around to find that no one else is looking at them. Does no one in Detroit watch The Bachelorette?! I guess they have other priorities, like 8 Mile and the economic divide and stuff, but still – this is love! Indeed, no one else was looking, and I didn’t want to be “that girl” bugging them in the airport; of lesser importance, I was about to miss my flight. So I hovered for one more second, started shuffling again, called my friends who were already in Glen Arbor, told them the big news and to get excited for all the details upon my arrival. I like to make big entrances.

Next stop: Love at Enterprise. Let me quickly tell you that I was supposed to be making this Michigan trek with two other college friends that live in DC. We booked our flights, made our rental car plans and then they both had big things come up and had to back out. This was fine; except, that I had a two-months-expired TX license. How’s a girl to rent a Fiat by herself with an expired license? A girl has to take the metro to the DC DMV; realize she needs to have her social security card; metro back home to get it; realize her social security card resides in GA with her parents; walk to the Social Security Administration; get a Social Security print out; metro back to the DC DMV; wait two hours; present all of the appropriate documents; get the license; take a bus to work, arriving for the first time all day at 2:00 p.m. Because I am an ideal employee! It is important to note that this entire ordeal took six hours. It is most important to note that when I finally made it to the clerk at the DMV, she was wearing a camo shirt that read, “DOES NOT PLAY WELL WITH OTHERS.”She did not.

It was a long journey, but it ultimately lead me to 101 HP, in cherry red. I know nothing about Fiats [ed note: I googled the horsepower]. That’s not true, I know one thing about them: J Lo is the Fiat spokesperson. And that is enough for me. When Marc came out of the back office with a set of sassy keys and said, “Alright, we’ve got you in a red Fiat,” I replied with, “Hell yes, you do.” As a rule, I stay away from the color red. I got a pair of red cropped pants this year and it was a big step. I don’t wear my hair down when I wear them. It’s simply too much. But, The Fiat in red? It just felt right.

I hopped in The Fiat and tried to push the seat back. It was as far back as it was go. If I had been one inch taller, our love would have ceased to exist and I would have been driving a Taurus <shudder>. I turned the ignition and realized I had not driven in six months. People say it’s like riding a bike, you never forget. But I am really terrible at riding a bike and completely forget how every time I try. I remembered how to drive a little better and spent the next three hours screaming Top 40 hits (oh hey, Demi Lovato, I’d follow you anywhere) and falling in love. As I drove into Glen Arbor, I kid you not, Kid Rock’s “All Summer Long” came on and I got to hear the lyrics “it was summertime in Northern Michigan”…in NORTHERN MICHIGAN! It just doesn’t get better than that.

I’ll wrap it up, but - as you can tell by my face - it really was a weekend of love. I got to watch two people who have loved each other since they were 18, join their lives together forever. I got to watch my Dad, who I love, preside over the ceremony. I got to see two people, who fell in love on television, wheel carry-on-size suitcases around the Detroit airport (this example may lose some of its luster in a few month’s time, but I hope not). And I got to have a fleeting love affair with the equivalent of a red tin can. I literally could have flown off the road at any time. Alas, it was fleeting. I am an SUV girl to the core. I need something that is steady and keeps me grounded. I need something with intimidating stature, terrible gas mileage and neutral palate. I need my car to stand taller than my waist. But it was a good fling and the best “+1” I could have asked for.