09 September 2010

Difficult Goodbye

I've had two cars in my life.  I've been driving for 14 years.

My first car was a 1986 Mazda 626 LX.  It was high tech for that time - power windows, power locks and oscillating vents.  When I would unlock the driver-side door with my key, all of the locks in the car would pop up.  The only time I didn't love the power locks was when ONLY the driver-side door would unlock with the key, which was a dead giveaway that the battery was dead.  I turned 16 in August, but was caught sneaking out (actually sneaking back in - REALLY poor form - at 6 in the morning) just before my birthday.  I'd been hoping for a car, but that crushed all hope.  On Thanksgiving day in 1996, I went on a cleaning rampage.  While cleaning, I alternated talking on the phone and listening to music.  I reorganized my room, vacuumed, tidied, changed my sheets - the whole nine yards.  In fact, I even dusted and shook my dust rag outside the front door.  What I failed to notice until nearly dinner time, was that there was a strange car parked in our driveway...with a GIANT RED BOW ON IT.  My parents thought I was going crazy...or blind...

Upon seeing the effort that my parents put into surprising me and presenting me with that Mazda helped me to fall in love with it immediately.  She lasted until 2002.  At that point, she was burning oil and had a leak in the break line.  It seemed as though it was time to let her go.  She was a good car - no, a great car.  And I passed her on to her next (and presumably last) owner with 200,000 miles, 10 bumper stickers (including a Harley-Davidson sticker and a rainbow sticker).  She was purchased by a father for her high school aged daughter.

I bought my second car on the day after Christmas in 2002 - a great time to buy a car.  I'd saved up some money from working, from college graduation gifts and my parents helped me out a bit.  I bought my 1997 Honda Civic LX outright, and I've had it for just under 8 years.  It's been another great car.  Outside of regular maintenance, I don't think I've spent more than $5,000 on repairs in the last 8 years.  Not too shabby.

I didn't love the car right away, and that concerned my mom.  She'd ask me frequently if I loved my car yet...and it was probably a year or two before I did.  My Mazda picked me (or at least that's how I thought of it, since I didn't choose it myself) and I never coveted other people's cars, and I was never dissatisfied with it.  While I did purchase my Honda, I didn't pick it.  It was what was reliable and available and had decent mileage...although 80,000 miles seems pretty high to me now.  I learned to love it and she's taken me all over the east coast - as far north as Rhode Island and down to Georgia.

Her time with me is waning and I feel sad about that.  Her clutch is wonky, her engine sounds gravely and I think there's an exhaust issue going on.  I felt that she would last me until I was ready to move on to a new car, but it seems as though she's petering out more quickly than I'd thought she would.  I often feel like I don't drive that much, but my commute to work is 30 minutes each way.  I need a vehicle that won't run the risk of leaving me stranded on the side of the road in rush hour traffic.  I need a vehicle that can travel to visit my friends and family without me having to consider if there is someone who can retrieve me from a rural road in the middle of Virginia or on I-95.  I love her, but I need to pass her on to the next person...and tomorrow's the day.


Chrissy F. said...

Never easy to let go of a car you love; I just took the Jeep to the mechanic this morning for a new transmission (when I should probably just let it go), but I'm not ready yet. Sigh. Hopefully you will find a new car that you love immediately.

Hope you're well :)

Grumpy Editor said...

I can sympathize. Although she was not my first car, Tater Sally, my 96 Camry, and I had so many great memories together--and a lot of "firsts." When I said goodbye to her at her final resting place, the mechanics thought I was a whacko because I teared up a bit and took a moment to say farewell to her.

And of course you know how I feel about Lola... :)

I hope your car lasts a little bit longer and that you "bond" with a fabulous, totally-you vehicle! (I don't know why, but I picture you in a Subaru...)