Tuesday, July 26, 2011

This is Not Your Granny's Volvo!

It was 1971 when my grandparents left their New York City upper east-side apartment for the storybook town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. I was just six years old when they moved so far away. Naturally I didn't quite understand at that age just how far away California was, but I knew they weren't the short train ride from Connecticut anymore, and that was all I needed to know that life had just changed in a big way for a little girl. Though I visited them in Carmel over the years, it wasn't until ten years later, for my sweet sixteenth birthday, when I flew out to California on my own to see them.

It was during my visit that I took this photo of my grandmother's 1971 Volvo P1800E and silently wished it would be mine some day.

That wish came true in 1999...12 years after my grandmother passed away. I remember the day it came off the tractor trailer full of SUVs. The truck driver told me of all the people who asked about the "beautiful little car tucked behind his cab." He had carefully stowed it there to protect it from the elements.
From the moment I sat in it, I felt the connection to my grandmother again. But, it wouldn't be for a few more years before I started seeing the license plate and other signs that she was sending me.
 The first big sign I received, and therefore noticed, from her was through a license plate: CARMEL. Below is the story and excerpt from GOBIKE & Other Signs from the Universe 


The Story
My first memory of a strong license plate sign was in the late spring of 2004 while I was on a bike ride in Free Union, Virginia. I had left Grant, my ex-boyfriend of ten years, the previous fall, but in his garage remained my most prized possession—my grandmother’s mint condition 1971 Volvo P1800E. The idea of it safe in his garage was welcomed at the time since I did not have a garage at the house I was renting. But, having to drive my everyday car the 16 miles one way in order to pick up the Volvo whenever I wanted to take it for a spin, coupled with having to see him each time, was growing more and more difficult.
During one particular bike ride I contemplated whether or not I should permanently retrieve the car from his garage, and if so, how would I protect it from the elements of the varying degrees of central Virginia’s seasons? Within a mile of my internal conversation, a car approached…the only car I had seen for several miles…and its license plate was CARMEL. Instantly I knew that my grandmother was speaking to me through the license plate and that she wanted me to retrieve the Volvo.
Carmel, where I live now, is a quaint tourist town on the Monterey Peninsula in California, and is where my grandparents lived for most of my life and until Mima passed away in 1987, leaving Poppy on his own. It is also where Mima bought and drove the Volvo, and where I first silently declared while visiting them at the age of 16 that I wished to have that car some day. I still have the photo I took of it in their carport that trip.
My dream became a reality in 1999, seventeen years later, when I moved to Virginia and had a garage. My father shipped the Volvo from Carmel to me in Virginian, and that day, a few years later, in Free Union Mima was telling me to bring her car home. I did.
I researched and selected a portable garage, and it was happily protected and driven by me much more often than it had been while at Grant’s. As for the CARMEL license plate sign, it was powerful enough that I took notice. It was the first sign that I knew undoubtedly came from her, and one of many more to come.

NOTE: Sadly, my grandmother's Volvo is being held "hostage" by "Grant" - who will not relinquish it back to me. I am taking whatever steps I can to have my Volvo P1800E returned to me in Carmel, where it belongs.

To read more vignettes from GO BIKE & Other Signs from the Universe, you can download it to Kindle or a Kindle App for just $2.99.  60% of the proceeds are donated to the ASPCA.

Heather Hummel is a Celebrity Ghostwriter and the Author of Gracefully: Looking and Being Your Best At Any Age and the Journals from the Heart Series featuring Whispers from the Heart and Write from the Heart (Wisdom from the Heart is forthcoming). She has never smoked a cigarette or drank a cup of coffee. 

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