Zen and the Art of Saturn Maintenance

Through a slew of outrageously fun and sweetly sentimental goodbye-for-now toasts, songs, dances, poems, and hugs, I somehow managed to wrap up my job and my DC life—and see two of my favorite people Tie The Knot—all within my last 48 hours in the District.

With a dear DC friend and my endlessly loving Pit Bull as partners for the first stretch of my cross-country expedition, I set out from DC just slightly behind schedule yesterday afternoon. Loaded to the brim with an eclectic medley of items carefully selected to provide Shelter, Nourishment, and Positive Energy on our journey, as well as prepare us for the dilemmas we would inevitably encounter along the way, my two-door 98′ Saturn seemed to yearn for the open road.

We headed toward Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where my friend would trade places with his girlfriend—who is joining my pilgrimage West—to drive her car, loaded with their most precious belongings, to their new home in New Haven, Connecticut, where they will start their new life together as she begins studying the sacred profession of Midwifery at Yale this fall. We spoke of turning pages, closing chapters, and opening new ones. We reveled—as I often do these days—in the beauty of life and our place in it.

Seduced by the lushness of Pennsylvania’s rolling hills and the serenity of Ohio’s open plains, I felt the stresses of DC life begin to melt away, the nagging voices in my head quieting to contemplate the brilliance around us.

Increasingly peaceful and present as the evening sky burst into hypnotizing shades of pink and purple, we silently drank in the sunset until an eerily captivating periwinkle hue unlike anything we’d seen before began to radiate from some unknown point on the horizon and startled us into conversation. It called to us, and the Saturn raced toward it; we were desperate to become part of that divine glow before the mighty Midwestern darkness swallowed it forever.

As the last trace of color disappeared from the sky, we rolled into a service plaza in West Unity, Ohio, exhilarated and ready to power through the remaining 280 miles between us and a very special woman in Milwaukee.

But the Saturn was not ready.

She subtly protested her role in our 6,000+ mile adventure and the fossil-fuel based global economy overall—to be fair, she had little say in either—by refusing to turn over after we so generously pumped her full of delicious gasoline. Taunting me, she locked my faithful four-legged friend inside…until my two-legged friend reminded me I could unlock the doors manually.

After consulting a series of Good Samaritans (I love the Midwest!) and testing various tricks to coax the Saturn out of her hesitation, we realized we had no choice but to be towed to a nearby 24/7 service station where more expert hands could caress her into cooperation. Three hours and a new battery later, we were back on the road.

I was grateful for the patience of my co-pilots and the good nature of the patrons and staff of the West Unity Service Plaza and Joe and Bucky at Hutch’s Garage that allowed me to embrace the soft summer night and the hilarity of such a makeshift voyage. We finally reached Milwaukee at 5:30am, just in time for the familiar kiss of the urban sunrise to tuck us into bed. Like other recent Life Happenings, this adventure had a way of coming gracefully full circle at just the right moment to decipher some inkling of the Universe’s plan for me.

With that said, I should have known the Saturn would have been perfectly happy to remain sedentary in the carport behind my Columbia Heights rowhouse with the neighborhood cats and rats for company, that I had mistaken my own hunger for adventure for her willingness to break free of routine life in the District.

I have a feeling this won’t be our last standoff, but I do hope the Saturn grows to appreciate change.

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4 thoughts on “Zen and the Art of Saturn Maintenance

  1. I am happy the Saturn brought you back to your home town where I could spend some much needed time with you, my dear friend. I look forward to joining you for a portion of your journey.

  2. I thought I would hear from you again one way or the other. When do you leave Yellowstone again? Beach party is calling your name

    • Rob! We are now in Missoula, Montana. Sorry we missed the beach party but we did get to check out Boiling River which was amazing – thanks for the tip. What are your plans after Seattle?

      • I am not sure. I ended up giving my 1 week notice here in Yellowstone, and I will leave on Wednesday. I am headed for WA for a week or more, and no plans after that. I have to be in Utah by the 27th though. And yourselves?

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