Today, I took my car in to the garage on W. Alabama St for an oil change. I was about 1000 miles overdue for one but at least it’ll be done in an hour or so. Until then, I’m having late breakfast/early lunch here at River Oaks Coffee House – egg salad sandwich and iced coffee, a meal that is on my like list. I decided to take a break from the laptop and read (or type a blog post from my phone, but same idea) to take a break from staring into BuzzFeed and Facebook statuses all day.
My car is very special to me. At times, it is my best friend. I know it sounds weird, but my car and I are in a committed relationship.
My first car was handed down to me by my sister, who had to give it up when she went to college, and handed down to her by our aunt and uncle. It was a gigantic puke-brown 1994 Toyota that we called Mighty Big Vehicle because the license plate started with MBV. It was…mighty big, and very much an old person’s car. It was clunky and chunky and hard to maneuver into a parking spot. It briefly became my sister’s again when I left for college, but when she graduated, I transferred up to UMass and she traded up for a new car so the car transferred to me. It was all going pretty well until the end of first semester, sophomore year, when stupid me was trying to maneuver it out of the snow and unwittingly set the engine on fire in my parking lot, in full view of my house and those of several frats and sororities. I lost my shit and panicked big time (well, so would you if your car was on fire) and cried, screamed and yelled while up to my waist in snow. Oh and like fifty people I knew and even more that I didn’t know watched. The fire department came and hosed it off but I was way too far gone to function. I remember my landlord hugging me very tightly, yelling at my RA’s parents who showed up randomly for a visit, and then going to Rabbi Ruderman’s house for dinner with his family. It happened at about six in the evening, so my unstoppable and awesome dad flew up and got to town before midnight – he was planning on coming up anyway to help me pack and move out for the winter the next week but he came up immediately. Add that to the list of reasons I like my dad. I was very lucky and lost very little in the fire: my laptop was in my room, my phone was in my pocket, and my wallet escaped only lightly singed. I had a book on the seat which got ruined, and my backpack had a big hole in the bottom, and an empty plastic bottle was now fused to a strap. Strangely, I had two small stuffed animals – bumblebees, one purple and one red – that survived in the backpack unharmed. They were also in my pocket when I passed my driver’s test, so now they were officially up for canonization by my standards, bestowing upon them the name of “Lucky Bugs” and they will forever live in whatever backpack I am using. They’re actually with me right now. I lost my iPod in the fire, but that turned out to be a life-changing event, so I guess you could say that everything does happen for a reason. The worst part was that word had spread around and now everyone knew, and I was getting calls and texts about it. I’d like to think that I lived it down but every so often someone would mention it, usually in conversation while drunk. The best part was that some people actually thought it was planned, because it was right before finals week and was indeed quite a spectacle to be seen. That’s one way to break up the end of semester stress.
Anyways, I got back to Baltimore and on new years day 2008 I found the love of my life, a used 2000 Subaru Outback in a particularly unusual shade of olive green. It was the third car I tried and from the moment I got behind the wheel for a test drive I knew it was mine, sort of like Ollivander’s in Harry Potter. I didn’t care that it was used by some guy in Virginia…now it was MINE. The title is in my name, and I own it. The newest automobile addition to my family, and the first that is solely mine. My dad even asked me if I wanted a new car for graduation, but I said no and ended up going to Ecuador for a month instead, which was way better. It does not have a name or gender, because all my friends who have gotten that level of intimate with their cars have also seen their mobile companions die in horrible ways, and since I’ve made it this far (over 160000 miles) I think it’ll stay unnamed, just “my car.”
My car has scratches and scrapes and is usually dirty inside and out. It’s been in snow and sand, and hit more curbs than you can shake a stick at. (Seriously. Curbs are evil.) It has been driven by me, my mom, my dad, Dan, and probably Echo in a week or two. My sister has been banned from the driver’s seat since getting it into an accident the first time she borrowed it. When I lived in Israel and was asked who or what I missed the most, it was always the answer because a) I love driving the open road and b) unlike my people family, it can’t buy a ticket on a major airline. It has an unhealthy habit of enjoying parking tickets as a snack, but we’re working to kick the habit. It is very well traveled, having been to Maryland, Virginia, DC, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, and this summer it will hopefully see Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, and Wisconsin for the first time, making it more traveled than most Americans.
Most importantly, it has gotten me safely from point A to point B more times than I know and for that I’m grateful.