7.03.2013

in which i ramble needlessly about my car

I was seventeen on January 29th, 2004 when I came home from school to find a burgundy 2004 Mitsubishi Outlander parked on the driveway. It was three days before I turned eighteen and I was wearing dark orange corduroy pants that my mother would always tell me were horrific and reminded her of a suit my father would wear in the 1970's. I paired these corduroy pants with whatever I wanted and on January 29th, 2004, I chose a long sleeve pajama top from Victoria's Secret, pink, which did not match but I didn't care because my boyfriend was four hours away in college and my only ambition was making sure everyone knew I was miserable by letting my apathy hang rich in the air and twirling his class ring on an over sized gold chain around my neck. Three days before my eighteenth birthday, my mother picked me up from school and outside stood my dad with their little point and shoot film camera, snapping as I sat in the car no one could figure out why I wanted, turning the key in the ignition for the first time. As my mother immediately dived into her perfectly planned speech -- the this is our car, not your car; this is in our names, not yours; this is our car to let you drive when you are given permission and only then; this is not going to be a reward for a big, nasty mouth and the keys are not yours to lose, they are ours to give you when you deserve them speech -- I was planning how to make it truly mine. You know, in the fact that I wanted Fatally Yours displayed across the back windshield -- an idea which wasn't entertained for long unless I wanted to lose the keys forever. I didn't.

I shared a lot with that car. I shared with it all of the tears that accompany a senior year of high school, of skipping math to sit in the school parking lot to write sad love letters to the boyfriend who would become my husband one day. Of skipping math and typing and anything but photography any chance I could, rounding up friends for trips to the library or Starbucks or to eat my weight in take-out Roadhouse Grill rolls with my best friend when the hurt of missing my boyfriend was too heavy. It saw late night trips to Taco Ball, driving around the city blaring Alkaline Trio songs until the windows rattled, my cheeks wet with tears. It saw terrifying first trips on the highway to our favorite open mic spot on nights where my mother mostly just wanted me out of the house and around people capable of smiling. It saw trips to the beach, sand and salt and freedom; late night phone conversations with the boy I physically ached to be apart from. It saw fights and arguments and silent, awkward trips across a city that never seemed so big before. It saw all of those times I slowly transitioned from a naive, spoiled child to a woman who understood the world is capable of being a lot uglier on the outside of the gates of my parents neighborhood. It heard secrets -- so many secrets; my own, and words others told me they thought they never could. It lugged music equipment, friends of friends, empty Starbucks cups and textbooks and backpacks. It eventually held my belongings as my father helped me drive up to college that summer. Four months into my college career, I was listening to Frou Frou and was rear-ended by an obnoxious frat boy in a massive truck; Beauty In The Breakdown suddenly replaced by clanging metal and screeching tires. It was the car everyone knew to be mine because it always parked crooked.

And eventually it held my pregnant body as I drove to my doctor appointments. Eventually it held the car seat that we would be bringing our little boy home from the hospital in, the base snug and secure in the backseat where friends and backpacks once sat. A strange thing happened then, in that this car suddenly felt very small. It was likely the time I realized, once the bagboy opened my trunk to help me load the groceries into my car, that both a stroller and groceries do not fit in the trunk. Or the time we realized the sheer impossibility of my husband ever driving it, so long as Ethan is still rearfacing. Or the fact that it was cramped and crowded and lacked rear air conditioning which, in South Florida, in the summertime, feels more like a punishment and less first world problem than it initially sounds -- especially where a toddler is involved.

I've never been one to truly care about things of material value, especially not something like a car, but I've found myself having these Giving Tree moments lately whenever I catch a glimpse of my car sitting on the driveway of our home. I mentally apologize to the burgundy Mitsubishi baking in the hot sun, assuring it that I can forgive it for it's small trunk space and manual clock and one disc CD player. This morning as Ethan and I pulled into Starbucks to meet my dad for a morning coffee, a routine the Mitsubishi has seen so many times over the years, I wasn't expecting to learn I'd need four new tires put on this car. This old car. This stupid, old, small, money sucking car.

And as for now, I sit on the couch with eye bags, a hacking cough, no desire to put away the laundry in the drier, a general annoyance towards cars and everything that never wants to go my way, a prayer that four new tires is the last thing this car needs for a while. And a headache because, please believe, I have one of those, too.

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