A Good Start to May

A Good Start to May May 3, 2024

a car going through a car wash
image via Pixabay

April had been a bit of a sprint, but May has started out better.

I did finish those taxes that were worrying me so much, and got a tiny bit bigger rebate than I thought, and it didn’t quite cover rent our rent that’s due the fifteenth but we managed. I finished my student loan paperwork, the day before that April 30th deadline, even though I promised myself I wouldn’t wait til the last minute, because I realized I’d forgotten several things and had to print and fax documents. I finished my Lives of the Saints project, which I’d been working on for over a year, at three o’clock in the morning on the day of the May First deadline. And then I was exhausted. I didn’t get out of bed on the first day of May until it was almost time to pick up Adrienne from school.

On the second day of May, I slept in until noon.

I was in my pajamas drinking coffee, when I heard that familiar soft knock.

“Will you see what Jimmy wants?” I asked, and Michael got the door.

Jimmy the mechanic wanted to examine Serendipity, who had been shaking a bit when I accelerated up a hill. He borrowed the key and took a diagnostic drive around the neighborhood while I checked my email and tried to get up the will to eat. He brought her back with a clean bill of health: nothing seemed wrong at all. It was probably a clogged fuel filter. He would order a new one online and tell us how much it cost. He also heard the replacement alternator he’d put in after the fiasco last year making an odd noise, so he reminded me to watch out if the battery light came on– not that I needed the reminder. And then he gave his dissertation on every sensor and part in my car. He is the most meticulous of mechanics, and he always narrates after he gives Serendipity a checkup. I feel like I’ve attended a college course on car repair every time he drops by.

Michael asked if Jimmy wanted a gas card to pay him back for Adrienne carpooling to school and for mowing the lawn this summer, and Jimmy said he’d rather have cash if we didn’t mind. The second of the month is the only day I can regularly expect to get a big lump of pay, instead of waiting for a check from one of my writing projects or being surprised by somebody filling the tip jar. The last few months, all our second-of-the-month pay has been eaten up by bank overdrafts and making up for the last bit of rent, but this second-of-the-month we still had a bit of money to go shopping. We could gladly give him cash. Jimmy squeaked at the guinea pig, who was outside enjoying clover under her laundry basket. And he went home.

Michael was going to take the bus out to buy groceries, so I got to drive Serendipity to the car wash. She hadn’t been washed since before the December accident, and she was a mess. It was hard to even see when the sun glared off the dirt on the windshield.

Washing the car is one of my very favorite autistic stims. I don’t like running a hose over the car. I like taking her through the automatic car wash and pretending I’m in an amusement park ride. Something about the jets of soap and water spraying at the windows makes me thrill like a child in the Fun House. But we hadn’t had the extra fifteen dollars to go to the car wash for months. This was my first trip through the wash since Jimmy replaced the driver door–  this car wash comes with an unlimited stack of microfiber towels to buff your car afterwards, and I buffed off the junkyard’s spray price on the window with great satisfaction. I stood there in the hot sunlight, rubbing off the water droplets, humming to myself, for a ridiculously long time, as if Serendipity were a hot rod and not a dented twelve-year-old Nissan. And then it was time to go to the ATM for Jimmy’s pay and to pick Adrienne up from school.

Adrienne and I had scarcely gotten home before Michael was texting me from Kroger. He’d shopped for the manager’s specials there, and wanted a ride to finish the shopping at Aldi and Walmart. At that exact moment, I got another text from the mother of the Baker Street Irregulars, the one who gave Adrienne her Easter basket. The mother of the Baker Street Irregulars doesn’t have her own car. She wanted someone to take her to spend her food stamps. We all went up to Walmart together in the sparkling clean Serendipity– chatting about school and how her five children were doing, how excited we were for the summer, how expensive gas is getting. I hadn’t meant to complain about gas, but I noticed the gage was getting down to half a tank alarmingly quick.

When the Baker Street Irregulars’ mother came out of Walmart, she had bought us a twelve-pack of Adrienne’s favorite red Gatorade. “To pay you back for gas since I don’t have any cash.”

We came home with a clean car, a trunkful of food, half a tank of gas and exactly one dollar still in the bank– a dollar richer than the way we’d started April.

And I have friends now, right here in Steubenville where I thought I could never be happy. I’ve been such a hermit for the longest time, I’d forgotten what having friends was like. Here I’d talked to two people outside my own family in the course of one day. I genuinely like both of them.

I guess that makes me a rich woman.

It’s a good way to start out the month.



Mary Pezzulo is the author of Meditations on the Way of the Cross, The Sorrows and Joys of Mary, and Stumbling into Grace: How We Meet God in Tiny Works of Mercy.

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