Monday, February 1, 2010

N for Nostalgia

Despite how excited I am about the new car, I am going to miss the Saturn. Maybe I’m ridiculously overly emotional—I don’t know—but I sometimes get emotionally attached to the dumbest things. That car is one of them. I’m not ashamed to admit that, when Music Man got home from selling it and said, “I’m the only one who got to say goodbye to the car,” I cried. I felt as though I’d abandoned a good friend without so much as a “Goodbye and good luck in the future.”

That car and I have gone through a lot of stuff together. It was the first car I ever bought all on my own—I picked out all of the features, I dealt with the salesman and the finance people, and I made all the payments myself until it was paid off. I’ve laughed, cried, yelled, and sang my heart out in that car. I bought the car when I left my first fiancé…

I was twenty-five years old, and I was starting my life over. I needed a good, reliable car, because I was now going to be all on my own as a single woman. At a time when it seemed I had nothing stable, that car was something I could definitely depend on. (Don’t get me wrong; I had friends and family too, but I have a tendency to be overly independent because I refuse to be a “burden” to people.)

That car signified freedom and growing up. My ex-fiancé and I stayed together far longer than we should have. He wasn’t a bad guy per se; he just wasn’t the right one for me. We had started dating when I was 17, and to make an extremely long story short, I grew up and he didn’t. Well, at least not at the same rate as I did. As I grew up, I grew out of our relationship; we grew apart, and I fell out of love. I felt as though my life was over when I made the decision to leave. My world as I knew it had collapsed, and it seemed as though I was the only one to blame.

As I started life over, the car started its life with me. We lived in a new city that I had no experience with. The car and I learned our way around that city together—getting lost a few times along the way. When I had to move to a different apartment in that city a year later, the car transported many of my belongings to the new place.

That car transported me to the hospital to meet my second nephew on a cold, icy February evening. It also took me back and forth from my apartment, to my mother’s house, to the hospital, and back again several times after he was born. His mommy, my youngest sister, got a bad infection from her c-section incision and ended up in the hospital for a week after he was born. The family had to rally together to make sure baby got to visit mama every single day. I had never before carried such fragile, precious cargo and the car’s safety features and dependability gave me a little piece of mind on those trips with my newborn nephew.

The car shuttled my then five-year-old nephew (my first nephew) and me to the hospital a month later to meet his new little sister for the first time; we went back and forth all three days that my sister was in the hospital. Then, after having had custody of my nephew for nearly a week, the car took us to drop him off at grandma’s house. I had bonded with him so much and had gotten so used to having him around that I felt as though I was suddenly abandoning him (it didn’t help that he didn’t want me to leave him at grandma’s, because he’d gotten used to staying with auntie), and I cried all the way home.

When I decided to get a hobby, the car took me to knitting classes at a local high school, and once I was hooked, BFF and me took a few mini road trips in that car to go to one of the best yarn shops around. It was about a 45 minute drive, but it was usually worth the trip; except for the one time when I really should have bowed out because I had an awful migraine brewing, which resulted in my having to pull over to throw up at the side of the road on our way home. I still smile over the couple times that we got horribly lost trying to get to the shop and we laughed, and laughed over how dumb we were.

After a horribly dysfunctional relationship that lasted far, far too long (over two years too many), the car and I were single again. I was truly single for the first time in my life—I had gone straight from high school boyfriend, to ex fiancé, to narcissistic jerk. Because of the nature of the relationship with narcissistic jerk, and because of the kind of person he was, detaching completely from the relationship was difficult. The car took me to my first session with a therapist, and unlike myself, it didn’t judge me or think of me as weak for needing help. As the therapy helped me to realize the strength that was inside of me all along, I decided to discover who I was and to just be me, all by myself, for a while. I spent lots of time with friends and family and began figuring out who I was and what I wanted out of life.

Many months later, the car and I bravely met Music Man for a first date. A little over a year later, the car once again helped transport many of my belongings to a new home; a rental townhouse that Music Man and I would live in until our wedding day, return to as a married couple, and live in as newlyweds for a few more months. A few months after that move, Music Man and I welcomed little Wiggly into our family; he drove the car home as I cuddled our teeny tiny little puppy.

Three months later, the car took us to my mother’s house after we received the worst news of our lives. It sat in the street, blocked in by news vans, as I represented my family—appealing to the public to call police if they had any answers as to who might have committed the horrific crime that took my sister’s life. The car transported us home and back to my mom’s house every day for the next few days as funeral plans were made and we all grieved together.

Music Man drove my middle sister and me to a local shopping mall in the car. We were on a mission to find a funeral outfit for our baby sister. None of the clothes she owned could be worn. A turtleneck was needed to hide the deep ligature furrow on her neck; though we now knew how she had died, we didn’t need to see the gruesome reminder that her life had been so violently squeezed out of her. On Christmas Eve a few days later, the car was once again blocked in by news vans as I faced the cameras to give my family’s reaction to the news that my sister’s ex boyfriend—my nephew’s father—had been arrested.

The car transported us to my sister’s funeral two days after Christmas. It even added a little levity to the day by causing Music Man to rip the seam on the butt of his pants as we loaded some stuff into the car at my mom’s house before heading to the funeral. I always complained how low to the ground the car was, and that, combined with the fact that Music Man was wearing dress shoes on an icy driveway, created just the right conditions for an embarrassing wardrobe malfunction.

There was nothing we could do except go to the funeral; we didn’t have extra pants with us, there was no one Music Man could borrow from, and our house was almost a one hour round trip away, so going home most definitely wasn’t an option. The rip was thankfully not too visible as long as Music Man was standing with his legs close together, and we made it through the funeral without anyone seeing my husband’s behind. After a long day at the funeral, the luncheon that followed, and an evening bonfire to celebrate my sister’s life, the car took us home where we collapsed in utter exhaustion.

Weeks later, when I was finally ready to return to work (or as ready as I could be anyway), my dependable friend took me there. On the days when I would cry all the way to work, it provided a place for me to breathe calmly and to compose myself before walking in to work for the day. When I would cry again all the way back home, the car provided a shield against the eyes of the other drivers on the road, allowing me to bawl openly and loudly in my own private sanctuary.

As life returned to “normal,” or at least the new normal, the car took Music Man and me to a wedding planning fair. We went out many times to scout out possible ceremony and reception locations and to purchase many wedding supplies. Music Man’s sister used the car the day of our wedding to transport decorations and supplies to the reception hall, which she and all the male members of our wedding party readied for the evening.

Eight months into married life, the car helped to once again transport belongings to a new home. Shortly after that, the car took me to my first college class; the first step in my career change journey.

Yep. That car and I have been through lots of stuff together. It’s served me well, and I hope that the new owner is able to get it on the road again. It’s got some good years left in it; plenty of time for a seventeen year old girl’s memories to develop and take shape as she matures and grows. Perhaps it will take her home after a first date, giddy with love and happy with life. Someday it might carry her home, crying and heartbroken after a breakup, providing a similar sanctuary as it provided me. It will be dependable and it will keep her safe, and while she might not realize or appreciate that at her age, her father will.

So long, old friend. Thank you for being so reliable and dependable over the years, and thanks for the memories.

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  1. I am always sad when I get a new car. I always remember all the good times I had in it.

  2. Oh my goodness. I am probably one of the MOST nostalgia-prone people alive, so I totally understand. I can attach sentimental value to pretty much every single thing I own. Don't means you've had good memories, which is definitely a good thing!

  3. It's amazing how something like a car can end up meaning so much, isn't it? I felt that way about my first car that was totaled in an accident.

    Now I have an Element and I am sure that when it dies I will be so sad. It has taken me all over the country and I experienced so much with it. I never want it to leave me!

  4. I was attached to my last car, and was sad to see it go when we had to sell it. :(

  5. Ok, now I'm all sad for you and your car. I've only had one car that I missed. My 78 Monte Carlo I had during my teenage years. Oh the good times. The good times.

    I had to give you (((hugs))) for your sister. I am so sorry. I can't even imagine. :(

  6. So true! Cars have a way of marking major segments of our lives don't they? Great post!


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