Monday, December 16, 2013

Surreal


We have now officially entered the back stretch of 2013. The last two weeks of December take on a certain surreal character. We aren’t quite on vacation, but not entirely working either. In my case the books are about to be closed, there’s no one else to see, just a string of paperwork to complete. January will come in with a vengeance soon enough, but for now there’s a break in the action.

I’ve had a good year, and after two mediocre ones, prosperity feels better. But as always, life has cobbled together diabolical schemes to separate me from my wealth. Just last week, my son’s 1998 Volkswagen Jetta finally gave up the ghost. I had bought that car for him during the summer of his junior year in high school, and it had served him relatively well ever since. My hope was that it would make it one more semester, let me get through Kaitlin’s wedding bills before it blew up. That would have been asking too much of fate, I suppose.

So, over the weekend, I did some internet shopping on Carmax.com. I e-mailed Patrick a few possibilities. Then in a frantic five hours on Saturday, took a couple of test drives, texted him a few pictures, made the decision, secured financing, and purchased a 2011 Honda Civic. Now I have to figure out a way to get the car to Princeton, New Jersey, and myself back to RVA before Christmas. Of course, the down payment, cost of the warranty, title, taxes and fees (which one should NEVER finance), amounted to about what I had been planning to spend for Christmas. Surreal. Is it asking too much to be allowed to enjoy a season of plenty, the security of a respectable surplus in my capital accounts? Apparently so.

After the 24 hours of buyer’s remorse fades away, my good fortune becomes clearer. How blessed were we that Patrick’s car didn’t blow up on the New Jersey turnpike at 2 o’clock in the morning on his way home for Christmas? How fortunate that this should happen at a time of prosperity rather than scarcity? How much easier will it be to not have to worry every time Patrick drives his car to Newark or Philadelphia or Richmond? There is comfort in the details.

Maybe God knows me too well. Maybe he will never allow me to accumulate a suitable safety net, because in comfort I would become someone he wouldn’t like. Perhaps if I were rich I would become insufferable. Some might say I am already insufferable, a fair point. Regardless, God’s famously mysterious ways remain mysterious.