Thursday, December 24, 2015

Week 51: Elizabeth (in the Roundabout Waltz)

   The last book of The Roundabout Waltz series is the car book Elizabeth. It fits into the last slot of the box garage and is the same 1 x 1-inch accordion style as the other car books. The outside is covered in vintage yellow and white striped wallpaper, and the inside is laser printed with Times New Roman font on white text-weight paper. The little book fits into the black paper luggage rack of the little cardboard car which has been covered in green pastepaper with pastepaper windshields and headlights.

Elizabeth (as a car)  on The Roundabout Waltz, with the other car books in their box garage

A velcro dot has been glued to the bottom side of the little car... so the car can ride around each of the 'Waltz volvelles as The Roundabout Waltz is read.

Elizabeth car on the title page of The Roundabout Waltz
The book Elizabeth can be slipped out of the paper luggage rack and read.

Elizabeth out of the luggage rack and open to its title page

the accordion book Elizabeth, opening up
This is the story, Elizabeth...

   Elizabeth tries to concentrate as she steers her lime green Kia-van "juice box" down Hillsboro Street.. past NCSU, and around all the parked cars and darting students.  In the backseat 3 and 4 year-old Alex and Logan are in their car seats, slapping at each other and yelling. Her mother calls them Irish twins. Elizabeth's too busy and tired to think about it. 
   The five years since she was one of those darting students seems like forever. She’d just decided on a Veterinary Science major when she found out she and Brian were expecting…Oh well. They’re a family now. “It’s God’s blessing,” her mother says. At least now Brian’s done with school and they’ve moved out of her mother’s…
   She’s driving the boys to their Meet the Animals class at the Natural Science Museum downtown. They go every Wednesday. Last week they saw a live alligator; the week before, it was an ocelot. The boys are hoping this is snake week. Alex just loves snakes. Logan loves the bunnies. 
   Elizabeth always knew she would be a mom. But when she started college, new ideas began to surface… Maybe she would be a chemist or an engineer... At State, she loved her biology class, writing poetry, learning the chemical make-up of things.. philosophy! Her backpack was always full of books. She felt all grown up and like a little kid at the same time. She joined the Biology club and met Brian. They had so much in common! Same background, same goals…When she and Brian got married and set up house in the married housing on campus, she thought her life was perfect! She remembers nights studying in the library, meeting Brian for pizza, then going back to cram before he met her at the door to walk her to their little two-room place. She walked everywhere back then. It kept her thin and fit. Now she’s got 25 pounds of baby-fat and's always driving 'round in this darn minivan! 
   As she slows down for a stoplight, she looks past the passenger seat at D. H. Hill Library tower. Students in jeans and leather jackets are swirling about, walking in pairs, laughing and chatting…or trudging alone in a concentrated daze, eyes to the ground, bookbags hugged to their side… trying to remember something for a test… or worrying over what they got wrong… College is like that.. along with the amazing learning.. is stress and worry and late nights and everything taking so much energy! It’s a lot like having kids... 
   She nears the roundabout at Pullen Road and hears the bells ringing the hour from the NC State bell tower. The boys quieten for a moment.. mouths open, listening. As she swerves around the circle she feels a twinge of queasiness. In six months Alex and Logan will need to make room in the backseat… 
                                    The End

the real roundabout at Hillsboro St. and Pullen Rd. in Raleigh, NC

   Elizabeth's story is about the way a path can lead to the expected as well as the unexpected. Regardless of the obvious patterns seen on a map, sometimes no matter how hard one tries to steer in the right direction, life has a way of creating a landscape that is unique and unexpected and which can leave one feeling lost... Yet, mixed with the challenges and disappointments are serendipitous connections and unimagined rewards which are surprisingly often gained through failure. The Roundabout Waltz, written about a real place and that had some challenging issues at first, is really about maneuvering one's way through the circle of life.

the N.C. State University bell tower (beside the roundabout)
inscription on the bell tower door: "and they shall beat their swords into plowshares" -Isaiah 2:4
It is this artist's wish... this week and always... that you have PEACE and JOY.


  1. I just got caught up on the Roundabout series. I love the concept. I got caught up in the people's stories, too. I'm really worried for a couple of them! I hope to visit Raleigh again soon so you can take me on the Roundabout.

    1. Pat, Thanks! I wanted the car stories to be imaginative and somewhat humorous, yet not based on stereotypes for the humor. So I began each story with some parts of a person or situation I knew or had heard about. I found it surprisingly delightful to mix fiction with reality and create a story.