I was 15 in 2006 when my parents came back with a brand new silver Honda Civic. This was going to be the car I practiced with while on my permit and got once I obtained my license. While I should’ve been excited, the first (and spoiled in hindsight) thing I said was “wow that’s such an ugly shaped car.”
Even if that car was still one of the least pleasing looking cars on the road, I fell in love with it regardless. Just like most things in life, you can’t judge a book by its cover; and in this case it was my little Honda. On the inside it held so many memories, and enough solid engineering to save my life in two accidents.
I didn’t cry after my last accident when I stood on the road alone and avoided calling my parents. I didn’t cry when I watched them tow the totaled car away. I didn’t cry when I thought about being carless or the money it was going to take to get out of this mess. I didn’t cry until I realized I would never see that car again.
I hated to love that car. It was clear from the bumper I didn’t fix after a drunk frat boy ran into it in 2012, or the scratch on the side from hitting it against a parking pole last year. The car had so many bumps and bruises it was such an abused little thing. The car had scars that would likely never be healed, but it was still the strongest thing I had.
Nine and a half years and 110,000 miles with my favorite silver fox.
That car drove me to my first job, my first club, my first lacrosse game and my first college party. It was the key to my freedom as a teenager when I probably didn’t deserve it or know what to do with it. It held all the best CDs of my youth, including the infamous “Depressed Driving CD” because I was clearly an emotional child.
The car kept my secrets for me back when I still needed them. It held memories of teenagers singing with the windows down, road flirting, and sharing so many firsts in back seats as we were starting to be old enough to experience things. That car was a vessel for almost 10 years of my life while I was navigating through teens to adulthood.
Then it took me to college where I drove back and forth from home and impromptu road trips. It drove me to boyfriends and held many heartbreaks. That steering wheel had probably heard me cry more than any friend. The seats are likely stained with tears, and the walls ring of me singing break up songs (terribly) at the top of my lungs.
Five boyfriends all sitting shotgun. Dozens of friends through the years fighting for anything but the middle seat. Miles upon miles that forever will live in me.
The car drove me to Nashville for my first big break in my career. It took me to the airport when I thought I’d be working in NYC, and for all my trips to Europe. It brought me to Miami for the first time. It brought me home when that’s the only place I wanted to be.
So yes, it’s sappy as hell to care about a piece of metal. But I guess it’s more about who I was while I drove that car. Because the girl who commented on the shape so spitefully is absolutely not me. That girl who felt like such a rebel but was still scared shitless of everything is much braver than she once was.
The woman I am learned what distance really means.
It’s dumb, I’m sure, to love a car, but I love the life that it came with. I love the parts of my life I got to drive through, park in, and even the ones I speeded right past. The history of me growing up existed behind that steering wheel.
Granted, it feels amazing to buy a new car all on my own [the 2013 Hyundai Elantra Limited pictured above] – even if Miami insurance is just disgusting. I’m looking forward to falling in love with this new part of my life – the one that my first car drove me to.
I’m looking forward to where I will go, the wrong turns I’m going to make, and the people I’m going to meet along the way. I have the key to it all, literally, with my heart as the GPS.
It’s really not just a new car (or a new loan) it’s a new direction. This is a reminder that I control my life and I have the power to go where I want to. I can use my past as my map and the experiences that I’ve been through.