I was an Awesome Without Borders (AWB) grantee. Validation indeed. An entire committee of complete strangers… believed in my cause! Thank you AWB!
The public release date was later, so I kept it private. That afternoon, Swami texted “Congratulations!” Punky and Swami are chums from way back. Evidently, she’d told him. And had forwarded him my emotionally overwrought acceptance response. He thought it was fake. “You have the lingo down pat!” his email chortled.
I told Big T and the kids at dinner. They cheered! Even Cufflinks! Little Diva exclaimed “Mah bebbe girl will be on TeeVeee!” and kissed me! Next morning I called Yanni, Buddha, Kivinski and Vader. The grant check arrived. I registered. Remainder: $200.
Late summer blurred past, and the focus zoomed on college-transitioning Cufflinks. It felt so emotionally complex, so intense, that some days Indy never blipped the radar. Crazy, I know–but true.
But ever-vigilant helpless-track-junkie-boy Swami’s understated excitement was infectious. Playfully bantering about Hello Kitty livery designs, the happy goofy track-talk kept my heart from breaking over my kid leaving home. Gradually my thoughts on Indy lit up. “You’ll need new tires!” advised Swami. With alleged budget shredded, that was impossible.
Then, one evening out walking, Big T spoke:
“Honey, won’t you need new tires?”
“Not really. Mike says I should get some.”
“Let’s get you some! Besides, your birthday’s coming up.”
He logged into Tire Rack. I stood at his elbow, biting my lip. Salivating. He didn’t notice. My knees melted as he clicked the “Pay Now” button…OMG. New rubber!
Next day, SweetandSourSwami emailed with subject line: “An Idea”. He had designed a windshield banner using the AWESOME WITHOUT BORDERS logo. In typical off-handed delivery he gave step-by-step details for execution. Stuff I wouldn’t have thought of in a million years: Banner width, letter size, the margins from windshield edge, and so on. “RA will flip!” Swami predicted. It was a brilliant idea! What better way to thank Punky?
I was pumped! I proudly showed Vader the banner! As we spoke, a lightbulb popped on. “Hey, maybe I can sponsor you! Put my stickers on your car for Indy,” Vader offered. And, so began a week-long ridiculous haggle-fest. Days later, a malodorous stench emerged. It wasn’t working. It wasn’t worth it. I offered to put Vader’s beach rental stickers on my car without any money changing hands. Did Vader continue to argue with me? He huffed and fussed and I cajoled AND we sorted it out. We are still BFFs.
Searching for reputable decals shops, I found Christopher “Jeep” at Carolina Banner in Durham. He was clearly busy, but patiently answered my questions about vinyl finish types, opacity, pricing. Back in January Kivvi had floated developing an FDM logo. I had allowed my busy life to punt it. Bad move. Now I stood facing Indy, with my silver ballerina sparkling, starkly logo-less.
Costs were adding up fast. The remaining $200 partially covered the AWB decals. European Performance of Raleigh and NewsBlues.com stickers, without vector images, cost six-fold. I had to do what was right, and told Jeep I could not afford any decals that said FastDriverMom. He proofed me some anyway. As I fretted over them, I glanced up to see Jeep looking my way. I was wasting his time. My face flushed hot. With an embarrassed a laugh, I jokingly asked if he’d consider a discount if I put a Carolina Banner sticker on Moxie.
“Sure! Why not?” My jaw dropped.
In fifteen minutes flat, he devised a quick-and-dirty logo. I had a logo!
Matt from Leonard’s trailer hitch had contacted me about sponsorship. Specifically, a giant Leonard’s sticker on Moxie’s bumper. Eventually, his boss couldn’t get corporate approval. This was a loss.
There was another upcoming cost: In July, my sons’ friends met Moxie for the first time. Moxie’s doors have always been slightly misaligned, the fenders buckling a smidge if opened too fast. Nothing major really, and gently treated, they worked fine. One kid, a big fella, (6’3″ 200+ lbs) in a single excited ungainly swoop, effortlessly forced the door. I winced as Moxie released a metallic groan. I took a photo. Swami and Big T both said: “Air scoop maybe?”
At Johnson Body Shop on Iredell Street in Durham, I met owner Mike Philips. As I described my difficulty, a smile grew on his face. “I can take care of it. It won’t cost you anything. No need to take her off the trailer. Bring her over Friday.” I did. In less than 60 seconds, he was done!
With Moxie on the trailer and packed for Indy, to practice driving the Pig as a tow-vehicle, I took a trial run up to VIR. At the TMI Pro shop I bought four 5 gallon fuel jugs. I wasn’t taking any chances with $10 gas again!
All of Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to packing for my son. Freshman orientation began Tuesday. All packed and loaded, kids on board, early Monday I picked up the new Toyos from DigiBrad’s.
And drove 800 miles.
I would return as a different person.