I Can See Clearly Now


We bought the above vehicle four months ago, facing a stupid repair bill on a car over 10 years old, more money than the car was worth. Maybe.

We really like it, this 2015 Mazda CX-5. We’ve actually had conversations about the things we like the most about this particular car. John loves the big backseat, where he often rides. I’m not sure what Julie likes, but she drives it mostly and approves.

I really like the keyless entry. As long as the fob is in my pocket, all the doors will open with a press of my thumb. It feels biometric, like unlocking my phone with my thumb print, although it’s not. I want to open everything this way.

The thing I like least with this car, or any car, are the windshield wipers. I really like having windshield wipers. I don’t like changing them, because it always seems like an easy thing and I do it so rarely it always takes me much longer than it should. It feels like it should be easier than replacing a turn signal, say, and it never is.

Here’s what’s funny, though—we bought this car in October. The first time we used the wipers, I noticed a little frayed segment and I knew I needed to replace it. The other one, too. Nothing changes the driving experience in western Washington as much as new windshield wipers.

It just never came up, which tells you a lot about our weather lately, or it seems to me. Maybe it’s just because I don’t drive it very often, although my wife probably would have mentioned it if she was having problems.

And then we had snow and didn’t drive it much, and then it dried out, and now recently it’s been raining and those wipers obviously needed to be changed ASAP.

I went out Saturday to run errands and picked up a couple of replacement blades. It wasn’t raining so I just looked up the instructions in our car manual and postponed it, and then Sunday came and I was sick. Sick on Monday. Sick yesterday. My wife came home late last night and was determined to put on the new ones herself, but it was dark and I told her to let me to do it this morning. I was going to be feeling better by then.

Not so much, though. It’s not getting worse; I just keep swearing to force myself through it, just take on life and pretend that my nose isn’t running and that I’m not coughing and sneezing, and then I start to move and those ideas slide off the table.

And mornings are bad, so I got up and got dressed for the weather, reviewed the manual, fussed with those wipers for a few minutes, and gave up. Julie decided to run down the street on her way to work, stop at the auto parts store where I bought them, and have somebody put them on. Which they did, in about five minutes.

My brain just wasn’t working well, and it was cold and I’m sick. Still. Nothing reeks of helplessness as much as stuff like this, easy stuff I can’t seem to manage unless I’m at the top of my game. And I’m not there.

Once again, too, Facebook shows me memories that suggest this is when I get sick, if I do. I obviously had a flu-like thing in 2012. I developed a horrible cold back in 2016, I remember, when my mom and I made our road trip to Texas—we both got sick on the trip back, and by the time I arrived in Seattle I was miserable. I took the train downtown and a bus from there to SPU, where Julie was teaching and had the car, and I remember feeling like Ratso Rizzo at the end of Midnight Cowboy, leaning against the bus window and quietly dying.


So this shouldn’t be unexpected, or a mystery. I don’t think I have a weakened immune system, although how would I know? I just don’t feel particularly frail. I’ve had a couple of bad colds, back to back, and they’ve made me whiny and lethargic and full of pity for my poor self.

Meh. It’s better. I took a shower and did laundry yesterday, just trying to be proactive and imagining that I’m sterilizing everything. I’m not; I look over at my wastebasket, nearing the top with crumpled tissues, and then I wonder if I rinsed out my coffee cup or actually washed it...

Maybe that’s it, too. Maybe I’m ignoring things and recycling bugs. Maybe I’ll empty that wastebasket and wash that coffee cup, change out my toothbrush, wash more stuff. Maybe it won’t make a difference. I’m pretty sure I’m going to survive, and I just texted my wife to ask how the wipers worked.

“Stunningly,” she said, which is something when you’re talking about windshield wipers. All good, I guess. Maybe I need to sterilize that keyless door handle.

Chuck SigarsComment