11 Jan 2017
As we were finalizing the steps of our move (five days away, eek!), Eric and I realized that we wouldn’t really have any more need or space for our second car. It was costing us a pretty penny to insure it, and we’d have to pay another chunk of change to have it moved (or impose so terribly on one of our parents to drive it up to Seattle for us. Four days of driving with no cruise control, whee!) As we thought it through, we reached a bittersweet decision: it was time to bid our green chariot farewell.
Why was it such a big deal? I bought this little green Honda when I was 16, brand new, from the dealership, mostly because I couldn’t find a decent and reliable used car and was likely traumatized by the woes my brother suffered in dealing with the used Jeep he had bought the year before. I went in with my dad and haggled the good haggle. I paid my $268.40 every month for four years, first out of my Wild Oats paycheck, then from my Oberlin library/tutoring/assistant teaching paychecks. I paid her off just at the start of my senior year. And after that, I worried much less about spilling my coffee.
She’s a 1999 Honda Civic. It’s now 2017. And I am 34. This car has carried me through over half my life. Every single one of her 85,000 miles was put on her by me, or some member of my traveling circus. When we were expecting Micah in 2014, we knew a two-door wasn’t going to be the best option for heavy carseats, so we bought our 2011 Accord. We just didn’t drive the green car very much at all after that–to airports, maybe, or on the rare occasion when we both needed to be somewhere at the same time. Seattle has much better public transit, and we now live in the age of Uber and Lyft for those situations. So it was time to say goodbye.
I might not have thought about writing a post like this, except that my dad just wrote one on the 20th anniversary of his white Miata. I loved reading about all the places that sweet little car had taken him. And I wanted to do the same for my little green car. I am not a person who cares too much about things (I suspect that is true for most of us), except in that they are perfect little repositories of memory. This car holds so very many.
She doesn’t have many miles for her seventeen years because I didn’t drive her much on a daily basis, except during her first year, when I drove her to White Station High School every morning, music blaring, protein smoothie in my cupholder (main ingredient: ice cream. Lolololol.) She stayed home during my first year at Oberlin, but I drove her up my sophomore year, the first of many sojourns across the 678 miles from my driveway in Memphis to campus. By the time I graduated, I had this trip whittled down to 10.5 hours, with only one stop. I know, I’m a savage. I came home every summer, most spring and fall breaks, and several Thanksgivings, including one in which I came home two days early, hid my car on a side street, and then hid in the closet to surprise my mom (my dad and I were good co-conspirators).
After I graduated Oberlin and came back from a summer in Russia, I loaded up the car and drove out to Berkeley for grad school, stopping along the way to pick up my brother in Oklahoma City (where he had arrived from Austin after a harrowing Greyhound bus ride. Thanks, brother!) We had almost zero dollars, but lots and lots of fun. In Berkeley I took the little green car across the bridge to San Francisco and up to Point Reyes, and on the weekends we explored all the little neighborhoods of the East Bay.
During my first summer in Berkeley, my brother came to stay with me while he worked at an architecture firm in the city. My brother is a very good person to have around if you like adventures. We went to visit a friend in Monterey. Then he suggested that we drive up the coast to see the pygmy cypresses near Fort Bragg, stopping along the way in Mendocino, where, to my great chagrin, my brother made me listen to the Sir Douglas Quartet’s “Mendocino,” which is, objectively, the worst song in the world (sorry, brother.) He soon redeemed himself. One day I came home from my French class, and he said, “Hey! Let’s drive up to Vancouver!” And we did! Straight up the 5 through California, Oregon, and Washington, stopping on the way home in Bend and Crater Lake, which is one the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and where we had a summer snowball fight. Good times!
The little green car ferried me all around the Bay area for seven years, during which time I finally got her California plates. Did you know that it is illegal to have a car in the state of California for more than 30 days without getting California plates? Did you know that it’s kind of complicated to change a car title (in my dad’s name, since I was only 16 when I bought it) across states? Whew, I was glad to get that resolved. After two years. Ha!
The green car drove me down to LA to visit my friend Steve, but most of her trips were local. My brother moved first to Oakland, then to San Francisco, and I’d pop over to see him. And then, happiest of happies, I met Eric. I drove over to see him as often as I could, and we took all manner of local trips: Napa, Sonoma, Half Moon Bay. We also made the HARROWING drive up to Sea Ranch to spend Thanksgiving with my family several times.
After we got married, we drove our little green car down to Pasadena, and then to Idyllwild, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and the beach. And then…our family of two grew to three, and green car’s driving days were mostly over. I hope she has many more with her new owner.
I didn’t cry when we sold her to Carmax (even though maybe I should have, given the low offer!), except at this one little moment. My whole family had been so sweet about it, including Eric, who was asking me, as we waited to sign some papers, how I was feeling. I turned to him and said, “You know, I was just thinking about who I was when I bought that car–what I imagined my life would be like, where I imagined my life would take me. And I realized that I have everything I could ever have hoped for.” It’s so true. And I’m so grateful. Farewell, green car!