Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone.
-- John Keats, "Hyperion"
I'm killing time at D.'s house, on a Monday when I normally would be at work, waiting for a tow truck to come take my 1995 Saturn, which I'm donating to a public-radio station. The clutch gave out in late November, and because my father's 2002 Saturn (with fewer than 18,000 miles) was waiting for a new home, I decided not to have my car (with nearly 110,000) fixed, as it would cost at least half of what the car was worth. But I couldn't find the title, so I had to order a replacement, which turned into a nearly three-month ordeal with DC's Department of Motor Vehicles. The car has been sitting in front of D.'s house the whole time. Now I have the title, the donation has been arranged, and it's time to say goodbye to a good, mostly reliable car that I've owned since 1998.
Meanwhile, I bought Dad's car. But last week, before I'd even made all the payments to my sister, I punched a hole in the front of it while trying to turn my way out of the narrow entrance of a downtown parking garage that was, at the time, attendant-less. The attendant, of course, appeared as soon as I drove off in frustrated rage -- at myself. (No other car was involved.) So now I have to get body work done on the new Saturn (manufactured by a company that, as of a few months ago, no longer exists) as soon as my other -- frankly, beloved -- car is donated and on its way.
I helped Dad buy this car, aided by Saturn's no-haggle policy, and he himself put a couple dents in it during the relatively short time he drove it (all since repaired). I realize that the material things we own have no expectations of us. And my father doesn't know about my accident, let alone remember that I've bought the car (he continues to think I borrow it, with his blessing). But I can't help feeling I've already failed at my stewardship of this object entrusted to me, corporate orphan that it is: a vehicle in need of greater care, cooler emotions, a gentler hand shifting it into drive.