Estelle Has Arrived


I’d written to Will at Sportsmobile to see if there was an update on the arrival of my van, my van that has already gone through a series names.

It’s been Alfred, Gabriel, Vanny II, and now Estelle. Estelle may be the name that sticks.

Estelle is the most personal. The other names came from fiction or recycling. Estelle, however, is super close to my heart. She’s the woman I grew up thinking of as my Jewish mom. Not that I need a second mom. My mom is awesome. And honestly, I never called her Estelle. She was always Mrs. Matus. Would still be Mrs. Matus. Will forever and always be Mrs. Matus.

Mrs. Matus was my best friend’s mom when I lived in Denver. I was pre-kindergarten when we met. Her son, Seth, and I were instant friends. We did everything together. The fact that they lived directly across a very not-busy street that we could cross without supervision helped. You could let a four-year-old cross the street alone in the 1970s.

She had two boys, Seth and Jordan. With an eye to the grass being greener, she always wanted a girl. Or so she told me once. My family was moving to California. Dad had gone ahead, looking for a job. Mom was packing up the house. And I didn’t want to move anywhere near the ocean because I believed Jaws would get me.

Shortly before I took my first ride in a big ol’ jet airliner, Mrs. Matus sat me down on their sleek leather sofa. School was out for the summer and the sliding glass door was open. The sun had disappeared as an afternoon thunderstorm rolled through leaving the air charged causing thin strands of dark blond hair escaped from my braids that were tied off with blue yarn ribbons. Soon giant droplets would turn the sidewalks into a Rorschach test with the rise of petrichor like a fog.

She set a little black velvet bag in my hand. To my eight-year-old eyes it was very fancy.

“Open it,” she prompted.

I fumbled the bag open and pulled out a broach. It was a gold ship with mighty sails that looked like they’d caught a gust on the high seas, flags cracking atop the masts.

I looked up at her. “It’s for you. I don’t have a daughter to give it to.”

She took the ship from me, pinned it to my bright blue and purple flowered tank top, and kissed me on the forehead. I threw my arms around her neck in a strangle-hold hug. She kissed me again and sent me out to play in the rain.

Will called back while I was driving to the grocery store. My beautiful Dolomite Brown 4x4 Sprinter Hightop is at the Mercedes Dealership in Fresno! I get to go meet Estelle and finalize the build next month.

I spent the next forty minutes wandering though Pavilions with my first eggnog latte of the season buying things I didn’t need like a snowflake tablecloth for camping next month crying because I was so happy.

It was a very good day.

UPDATE: Her name’s not Estelle. Might be her middle name. My van’s name is Root Beer Float.