Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Saga of the Sebring: A Family Drama

The car I bought.
I bought a 2004 Sebring a few years back, soon after moving from Ukraine to Toledo to be closer to my children and grandchildren.  It was a sporty Chrysler convertible, low mileage, nice features, formerly owned by famous Toledo restauranteur Tony Packo, his "Florida car."  What a deal!

It was a spur-of-the-moment decision. My grandson Josh and I had gone to Rally's for $1.00 hamburgers, cruised next door to the Honda dealer to look around, and saw the car. It kind of jumped out at us. It was so beautiful and shiny. I bought it, thinking maybe Josh could use it when he got his driver's license in a few months. That was the extent of the thinking that went into buying this car. "Those were expensive hamburgers," I later joked with Josh.

But as it turned out, it wasn't a joking matter. That car was loaded with lots more than a pretty body and elegant design. It was loaded with symbolism.
The car as symbol. 
That's right, symbolism.
What did it symbolize?
It symbolized the metaphysical "pink elephant in the room."  The mistakes, shortcomings and misadventures of our lives that affect everyone but that no one wants to address. Truths that are being ignored.
The car it became.
The responses to the pink elephant drifted out slowly. A comment here, a remark there. A misunderstanding now, a miscommunication later. Just like old times. It brought up issues.

A car did all this?
Yes, it morphed into a whole new purpose.
So what was the problem?
Well, okay, it boils down to this: The 2004 Sebring was not just about getting a car.  It was about the way the decision was made, why the decision was made, who was involved in the decision, who should have use of the car, who was in the driver's seat.
The car as healing process. 
Wow, those really are important issues.
I know.  They seemed to emerge from the depths of our unconscious behavior. Those old family dynamics. They meant different things to each of us, and we were at first adamant about our own perceptions. And so the car set the stage for some meaningful working out of lingering unresolved issues. We had to get that pink elephant out of the way.

Did it happen?
Yes, it did. It got discussions going.  It took time and lots of effort, which we were each willing and ready to make. It wasn't easy. It created tension and distress at times. But we persisted; listened to each other; broke through lots of stuff, that old baggage that gets in the way of growing.  You could say we opened the hood, put the top down and let fresh ideas in.
Letting the sunshine in..  
So the car did it's job!
I think so. It helped put us on the right road. Relationships are always a work in progress. But we have more tools, more understanding, more openness, and  I won't have to buy another car.  I feel blessed. I am grateful. I hope my daughters feel the same way.

The car as memory.

I sold the Sebring today.
Oh no! After all that drama.
Yes, it served its purpose.
It was a great little car. It was worth every penny, every argument, every discussion, every insight. What's more important than that?  It's the reason I moved to Sylvania in the first place, to be closer to my children and grandchildren, closer not only geographically, but also emotionally. That's the lesson that the Saga of the Sebring taught me. That's what it was all about. My kids and I have never been closer.  And the Sebring is becoming a memory.

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