When I was 18, my parents bought me a two-door 1999 Honda Civic in exchange for a full scholarship I received. Last weekend, I sold that car.
She was a stick shift and I couldn’t drive stick shift. I spent the entire summer learning to drive it. My friend April tried her best to teach me, but it was a kid named Patrick who finally made it click. He told me to try driving it in reverse to get the feel for how your feet need to be equal in order to engage without stalling it. I tried it. And lo, I was able to drive it!
I hadn’t expected to keep my sweet little car for as long as I did, but as a Honda, she demanded very little maintenance. As she got older, of course she asked a little more, but only left me stranded once, last winter. Another time, she even chug-a-lugged all the way across town to the shop, threatening to stall but never truly dying until I pulled into the parking lot. We were so comfortable together that I could tell immediately when something was wrong, and I recognized the sound of her engine when she was started up.
When I decided it was time I start taking road trips on my own, my husband and I decided I should probably trade up. He found a little used SUV and I said that if I could get $1000 for my Honda, I’d be willing to offer it up in trade.
Driving to the car dealership felt like I was driving a beloved dog to the vet to be put down: heart-wrenching. I felt guilty, sad, regretful, doubting. But also excited. Excited about a new car and new experiences, and having a radio again (my radio died a couple years ago).
But when it came time to leave the ol’ girl at the car lot, I cried.
We’d been through a lot together. She’d taken me across country several times, moved me to new apartments more times than I can remember, stood in as my home-away-from-home during a horrible couple of weeks as a home health aid, and fit me like a comfortable old sweater. She was there for me as I grew from teenager to young adult and quite nearly to middle age. I loved her like an old friend and I will miss her like one too.