Thursday, September 3, 2009

Ode to My Car: A Love Story

Remember the first time you fell in love? It was great, wasn't it? It was exciting, fun, sexy. The anticipation of the first ride was palpable. And it didn't disappoint...

It was 2002, I was 17 years old. Although I've always been a bit of a wild child, I was a good kid with excellent grades. Because of that, my father promised to buy me a car for all my hard work. I loosely explained what I would like - a fast, black convertible. He obliged.

Homecoming night of my junior year I saw her. Standing alone in my driveway, the world became still. Her sleek, dark curves, her tan, cool top, and her engine. V6... the things I could do with that!

I slid into the smooth leather seat and turned her on (as she did me) and revved her up. She purred, I swooned and that was it. My Japanese love machine I lovingly called "Lil E". (Apparently, if I don't name things that sound like they could possibly be a rapper, I can't love them.)

We were a packaged deal from then on out. She saw me through high school and numerous colleges. Although people tried to separate us by showing me new cars, I refused and she remained faithful, too. What did I do to deserve such a beautiful thing?

She took me out to California so we could start a new life together. It was hard for her travel all that way, away from home, away from the weather she loved so. She did it though, out of love for me.

But like all great relationships, ours began to crumble. I was working so much, putting lots of time in with that and trying to see my friends. When she started to complain I explained "California is different. It's all spread out from the valleys to the beaches. You need to understand." She kept grumbling, though, and eventually started to let herself go. 

We began fighting a lot. Once she left me stranded in Manhattan Beach claiming that I kept "draining her battery!". Another time she threatened to kill herself if I didn't get her flushed out and replace her oil. I thought that was a little dramatic. Worst of all was the way she was beginning to look; the sun spots. Dear God, the sunspots. If she were a dog she would be a Dalmatian at this point. Naturally, she blamed me for not knowing how important it is to "spend time with me and wax me. You know, make me feel sexy." Everything was always my fault.

Last night, it all came to a head. It was late and I had worked about 14 hours. I was exhausted and just wanted to go home. Instead, she decided that it was time to have the big talk. 

"Where is this headed, Brenna?" she demanded.

"Nowhere if you don't turn on your headlights!" I yelled, irritated.

"What's wrong with my headlights, huh?" she screamed incredulous. "They were just fine until you decided you didn't like how bright they were a few years ago. You wanted brighter ones and hired some dumb ass mechanic to put them in. He broke the piece that holds them steady and so now they point every which way and jostle out of place. If you had just appreciated me how I was naturally, maybe you wouldn't be standing here now."

"It's not just your headlights. Look at you! Look at your coat, it's ghetto and blotched! And the holes in your bumper make it look like you got shot!" I retorted.

"How dare you. First my rack and now my ass. It's all about looks with you. I've seen you checking out other cars when we're out," she sadly, looked away.

She had noticed that? "Ok, maybe it's unfair to attack how you look. But every time I turn you on, I never know if you're gonna throw the 'check engine' light at me or not. And that noise you make when we hit any bumps, it's awful! You sound like you're falling apart. I'm embarrassed to be seen with you when you do that," I admitted. 

She shook her head. "I'm embarrassing? You should see yourself rock out in here when you think no one is looking. You don't know how to use the tiptronics and carelessly throw food around. And don't think I don't realize how many times you've farted on my seat!"

I had to continue, I had to get it all out. "Your gas mileage is appalling. You think I didn't know? And your lug nuts don't match. What's that about? Oh, and how many times have I had to deal with your radiator? You get so crazy sometimes!"

Then, she turned on me. "Oh, yeah? Well what about when you're little brother dumped a blue slurpee in my backseat that you never even tried to clean? You're friends smoke around me and burn me, you've left me unsafe to be robbed, Kristina threw me into a parking lot wall, her stepdad hit me and you let your little brother smack my ass! Where were you?"

"True, but those things were out of my control. If I've neglected you recently, it's because I just can't bear the thought of dealing with you," I sighed.

"Do you not love me anymore?" she cried.

"Of course not! We've been through so much together, 120,000 miles! You were my first, my only. The thought of us being apart tears at my heart. But I don't know how we can go on like this," I replied.

"Therapy maybe..." she suggested.

"I can't afford it. Between a paint job, axel adjustment, engine work and God only knows what else, I would be broke. I'm not sure it's worth it to me anymore," I looked away.

And so we sat there in silence. As much as I don't want to say goodbye, I realized that eventually I would have to move on with my life and upgrade. The thought of selling her for parts, like a common whore, was heartbreaking. I'd rather fix her up with some other nice girl looking for a car to get her along. Would I? Could I? 

We drove home with no lights, barely acknowledging the screams from people to turn them on. As I arrived home, miraculously never getting pulled over, I shut her down and told her what was in my heart.

I whispered, "I'm too old for this and I love you too much to see you suffer. When we find you a new place and I find a new car, that should be it for us. No calls, no visits, no tweets. Don't think I won't miss you and what we've had in here. I'll always love you." I stroked a piece off trash off her seat and that was it.

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