The Yellow Mercedes

This morning, I awoke to the sound of my dearest Pitbull Terrier mix Duncan, heaving on the landing outside our bedroom door. I hopped out of bed and began rubbing his back, telling him it was okay and to get it all out. Any Pet Parent knows that animals feel a spectrum of emotions far greater than I anticipated before Duncan came into my life last year. Or perhaps I anthropomorphize too much. Either way- I could tell what Duncan was feeling: discomfort, embarrassment, and a little shame.

My fiancé and I have been talking a lot about kids lately. About the kind of parents we'll be, about the ways our behavior will shape their lives (for better or worse) and how we want to raise a family where taking risks is encouraged, but one always feels safe.

Rubbing Duncan's back this morning, I flashed back to being eight years old in the back of my parents yellow Mercedes Wagon. I was sick- don't remember why- and I was trying to hold it in until we got home, but nope, up it came right on the floor of the back seat. I thought my dad would be mad, but he rubbed my back and he told me it was okay, and to get it all out.

We drove that Mercedes everywhere. We'd pass little shops in Altadena selling Quincinera dresses on the way to school at St. Marks; I ached for one of those puffy confections! I wanted to be a flower girl so badly. (Perhaps this is why my wedding will feature six flower children). My sister and I would ride in "the way back," winding down the 101 and holding our breath when we reached the Pasadena tunnels coming home from the beach. I remember the rough salt on my skin and tasting it off my wrist when no one was looking.

My childhood memories are sun bleached. My sister is everywhere. The Rose Bowl soccer fields, writing songs on the backyard swing, watching PBS while my grandfather slept in his chair. My grandmother passed away last weekend. Nostalgic pains make sense in times like this.

There are so many practical reasons NOT to live in Los Angeles. I listed many of them when I left for the first, second, and third time. I love the Carolinas- the mountains surrounding Asheville are full of spiritual vitality. But home is not's visceral. Today, in the back of my throat, I miss the yellow Mercedes Wagon and I miss home.

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