Timing is everything in life. We live in a world of near misses, and, well, sometimes we get hit. Wednesday was one of those “sometimes” for me. It was foggy, I didn’t have good directions, I was late, and I was frustrated. I made a mistake. That’s why they call them accidents.
I’ll pay for it. Fortunately, I will pay for it monetarily, not with my life, and, thank God, not with the guilt of taking someone else’s. I say that so no one thinks my priorities are messed up. I say that so that you know that I know what’s important. I say that so I can say this…
I miss my car.
I do. I had her for thirteen years, and I took good care of her. I remember sitting in the office at Allison Ford and turning over that down payment. I remember making the mix tape – Janis, Jewel, Hank – that I listened to as I drove her home. That was on July 9th, Matt’s birthday, and I remember, years later, being scared to drive my car for months after hearing about his accident.
We stuffed that car with a coffee table, a vacuum, a mini-fridge, and more when I moved into my college dorm. I stuffed her just as full the last time I moved out at the end of my senior year. The last box wouldn’t fit. I said to hell with it and tossed it in the dumpster.
She bore the marks of my clumsiness, the indentation of the ex’s garage door opener, and the faint smell of kelp and pine needles thanks to my garden supply addiction. She sat in the lot of my first apartment and under the carport of my first home. She took me to my best friend’s wedding, her brother’s funeral, and her baby girl’s birth.
Thirteen years. Going to that wrecker lot was like visiting an excavation site. The car kit from my Dad, the Miraculous Medal from Mom, the first cassette tape I ever bought (Jim Croce’s Greatest Hits), the cable ties in the console just in case, the retired pair of running shoes that set me on the way to better health, and the numerous Sonic straw wrappers – they were all there. I sat in the driver’s seat one last time. I ran my hand over the dash. I flipped down the visor and found a note tucked in the mirror. “I love you! -Dad” That was the last thing I took.
The mix tape from July 9th, 1998 that was stuck in the cassette player? That I left.