Parking Buddha did not start out as Parking Buddha.
He started out as a gift for Kristina from a childhood friend.
When Kristina was little, we did not have typical, mainstream, regular, suburban friends. (Or at least, not very many.) So it would follow that when we had birthday parties, picnics, baby showers, or trips to the zoo, these would not be typical, mainstream, or regular suburban events either.
We did not emphasize pink, plastic, or expected. We sought out creative, surprising, and heart-felt. Costumes happened often and were usually cobbled together from the dress-up box, craft supplies, and kids/parents at hand. Birthday presents were the same. (More on that, later.)
Kristina and her friend Twyla were especially known for this. I’m not sure we ever set out to the store specifically to buy a present for Twyla. Kristina usually had a basket or scarf wrapped around things she had set aside to save for her buddy, ready to bring with on our next visit.
Kristina and Twyla met before Kristina was born, when Twyla was 12 days old.
A mutual friend had suggested Twyla’s mum and I should meet “sometime” because she was sure we would hit it off. We three pregnant ladies shared the same midwives, even. On our last planned midwife visit before Kristina’s birth, we waited for our appointment while an infant wailed in one of the appointment rooms.
After a bit, the family emerged with Dad carrying the babe, a flushed and teary Mum following. Dad greeted us with great enthusiasm (his natural way), and asked if I’d like to hold their little one – Twyla.
And then there she was, planted on my basketball-of-a-belly, staring up at me with her enormous blue eyes, one forgotten tear tracing down her cheek. Kristina kicked up to say, “Hello!” to the pressure, and Twyla grinned. (No, you will not convince me that was gas.)
We didn’t make the friend connection that day, and didn’t see them again until the girls were nearly two, when we happened on the same playground in the woods. We laughed, recalling how we first met; the girls – and their mamas – were fast friends from then on.
One year, to celebrate I-don’t-remember-what, Twyla wrapped and gave to Kristina an Indian deity statue. The girls were maybe six or seven. Kristina was delighted, and bundled up her Buddha to take home. Except that when we arrived home, the statue did not quite make it into the house. And then it rolled under a seat.
And was forgotten.
It thunked and rolled occasionally, when I hit a turn just right, reminding me it was there; I would make a mental note to retrieve it when we returned home, but that note would be over-written by the time we got there.
One afternoon, in a grumpy mood, I cleaned out the car, collecting fruit leather wrappers, empty drink boxes, bits of toys, cereal, books, and puppets into bags. I pulled the statue out from under a seat – to find that it was now a headless statue.
Panicking a little – this was a gift after all – I rooted around in the dark recesses until I found the missing head.
Kristina was not an overly sentimental kid about such things, but still. I felt badly and I was concerned about her reaction. So I did what any self-respecting, values-demonstrating mama would do: I shoved both pieces right back where I found them.
I’m not at all sure when we noticed that our parking karma had changed, but it most certainly did. Whenever we went to a show (these were the days of regular SCT and PSC attendance, where there’s no parking), or downtown Seattle, the spot we needed was right there waiting for us.
It happened over and over. It would not be denied.
When a time came for Kristina to clean out the car mess, she found (two pieces of) the statue and made the connection to our vastly improved parking luck.
She placed the body back under the seat, and put the head into the centre console – I’m not sure why, she might have had a reason (the head would have a better view from there? it was more respectful? cleaner?), or it could have been random.
Later, we traded that car to buy the one I have now. The biggest question was what to do with what we had for years been calling Parking Buddha. Was it real? Was it made up?
Did we dare take the chance? Apparently not.
The body was moved from the trade-in to its new home – under the front passenger seat of my Toyota. The head took its place of honour in the centre console. There they remain.
And I still have awesome parking karma.
Note: I pulled the statue pieces out to photograph for this story. And I was deeply chagrined to discover that we do not have a parking Buddha at all. Oops. I guess we didn’t look very closely at the statue to begin with. Any ideas as to who this is?
Update: Kristina thinks the statue might be Kwan Yin, the goddess of compassion. Kwan Yin has shown up often in my life. Maybe it is an exercise in compassion to provide a good parking spot for someone like me.