‘As is, where is” is an expression used for buying or selling something not perfect. You see it, you buy it and you don’t come back when you discover that the tires are bald, the radiator needs replacing and the rust hole is directly under your feet.

As is, where is, is a liberating phrase: I present to you my car. Spend as much time as you need inspecting it. No guilt, no pressure. I’ll gladly point out its flaws and then you can buy it or not.

As is, where is, is how I’d like to start 2014. Not with a resolution to change, but with a resolution to be, as is, where is.

I work in the fashion world – a world of women not accepting their bodies as is, where is. While purchasing something nice for themselves, they often tell me that they don’t like their elbows. They tell me their knees are wrinkly and that their necks are too long.

Many years ago, a young man told me that my arms were too short. The arms that I had had no gripes with until that moment suddenly looked to me like the arms of a hobbit. Once, a well-meaning mom (not mine) told me that my legs were chunky. Instantly, the legs that had kept me from falling on icy downhill ski courses were replaced, in my eyes, with tree trunks.

In junior high, I begged my mother to confirm that I was fat. She would not budge from her message of “You look fine” until one day, she said – in the kindest, most supportive voice she could control – “Maybe, Jolene, if, when you walk by a mirror and you can still see your backside after you’ve passed it, you might want to exercise a little more.”

Today, there isn’t a mirror in all the land safe from my backward glance.

My first car was a 1966 green Valiant purchased from a single mom, who sold it to me with a message: “If you are ever going to leave this town, you need a car.”

My Valiant represented freedom and was far from perfect. The inside lights turned on when I hit the brakes, and the paint curled back so far that my dad and brother took pity on me and painted it. I really didn’t mind the curled-back paint, but said my thank yous anyway. I was happy to drive it, as is, where is, if it took me somewhere.

My second car, a Volvo – also not perfect – was purchased for $300. I later sold it to a friend for $100. He towed it from my driveway and repurposed it into a truck, which he used for several years to carry his building materials and his kids. He once shared a story about driving it down Deering Avenue (the steep, scary part near Congress Street) when, suddenly, the hood blew off. No one was hurt. It, of course, had been purchased as is, where is.

My husband, Tom, just sold the 1999 F-250 that he jump-started twice a year to make dump runs to a son-and-father duo for $400.

First, the father arrived with a deposit of $200 and two weeks later, the son arrived with the balance. The father returned to our house after his son had signed the papers and announced that his son was not part of the deal. The son returned the day after and announced that he was not raised by his father.

The details of their lives were interesting, but, really, we just wanted the truck moved from the front of our house, where it sat as is, where is.

In 2009, we took advantage of the Cash-for-Clunkers program and traded our 1994 Ford Explorer for a 2010 Ford Fusion. The Explorer had to run to qualify for the program. Tom drove our uninspected, unregistered, ready-for-retirement car onto the lot of Casco Bay Ford. But before releasing the keys, he circled it several times, checking and double-checking its “as is, where is” status.

Imperfections become the details we grow to love in our cars and our people. We are so accustomed to having perfection presented to us on the big screen that when a celebrity is brave enough to say “no” to a face-lift, we celebrate it. A too-big nose is considered fascinating, and a slightly overweight (as in normal) actress is considered a heroine.

Six days ago, our first grand-nephew was born. Jett, 8 pounds and 4 ounces, is absolutely adorable and almost completely perfect. He has, however, inherited his mother’s weird baby toe, which slightly overlaps the toe next to it. That baby toe is his guarantee that he will go home from the hospital with the correct parents.

Love is, as is, where is.

Happy New Year.

Jolene McGowan lives and works in Portland with her husband, daughter and dog and has no plans to leave, ever. She can be contacted at:

[email protected]