I said I would keep it, passing down to my mortified kids who, regaled with tales of its storied existence from childbirth to age 16, would then be given the opportunity (i.e. be forced) to drive it to CCHS, kids replete with the same excitement their mother felt when pulling the ceiling-drooping, multi-shades-of-brown Pontiac 6000 into that same parking lot in 1996.
Well, sometimes we eat our words.
I said goodbye to the Elantra last week, the car that looked like me; the car with more dog hair, paw prints, and glass nose smudges than most grooming shops; the car that has traveled the Midwest and East Coast with inviting curiosity and surprising reliability; the only car I've ever outright owned; the only car improved by a backseat, gingham snowman sheet; the only car Lucy and Willie have ever known; the only car that continually inspired me to say, "I wish this inanimate object could talk. Oh, the stories it would tell."; the only car that has sat impatiently in Lexington traffic and gotten stuck in the owner's own Marrowbone yard; the bumper-stickered advertisement for sources of inspiration, the mobile reflection of the person I have become.
I am a practical person, however. Although the wheels may have technically still been on it, the sounds it was making would have suggested otherwise. Over the past 2-3 months, I said numerous times, "I really think my car might blow up." That wasn't hyperbole. I had multiple mechanics check it out; it would be "fixed" for a while, only then to return to its no-heat-at-random-times, increasing-cacophony-of-weird-sounds tricks. It had 194,000 miles...and it was a 2006 model (the legitimate disclaimer offered by every person who tried to work on it). A chunk of vinyl was missing from the steering wheel (my best guess: a dog bit or scratched it and then I picked at it while driving and bored), the driver's side visor stayed in a permanent "down" position, most of the dashboard lights did not work, and a new scratch on the outside, a scratch that inevitably joined a family of paint scrapes and small door dings, only provoked a "huh," if noticed at all.
As I've told many people over the past seven years, however, this stuff just gave the Elantra "character," becoming the arched doorways, inexplicable light switch, or slightly-bowed hardwood floors of my second home. The cosmetic stuff didn't bother me; to quite the contrary, I considered it quirks of a good life. It was the whole "this might blow up at any moment" bit that unnerved me. I simply came to the conclusion that if I didn't feel comfortable carting my dogs or another person around, if I couldn't jump in the car and confidently travel to Glasgow, much less, Chicago, it was time to let it go.
And thus, goodbye old friend.
Tell me stories about a car you've loved:)