Today, the inevitable happened! It was time to get Old Blue cleaned out and ready to be sold/given away. A few weeks ago, after a few near death experiences (one including a kiddie scooter), I decided it was time to get a new car. Something more reliable. Something more practical. Something that had a driver’s seat that actually sat upright on consistent basis.
So, last week with some help from the family, I drug myself to the car dealer. I made it clear from the beginning that I’m somewhat of a cheapskate, I didn’t need bells and whistles, and I planned on driving it until it died, just like I did with Old Blue. I think a small piece of me was secretly hoping it wouldn’t work out; they couldn’t meet all my demands. The result, me walking off the parking lot and sticking with the familiar. But, that didn’t happen. Everything I asked for I received and then some.
That’s how I found myself cleaning out my treasured friend today. And as surreal as it feels, it’s time. As I began cleaning her out, I couldn’t help but think of the lessons she taught me. I know it sounds crazy, I mean after all she’s an object, a machine, nothing more than a necessity to most people. But to me, she hold memories, lessons, and was with me half my driving life.
Here’s just a few things I learned through the years with Old Blue:
1. Life is too short to not have some adventure!!
The first trip this car took was a impromptu weekend trip to Colorado. We left in the middle of the night on a Thursday with the only rule being we could stop at any point of interest we wanted to along the way. Bobby D was always up for anything, and Annie, well she was easily persuaded when we were road tripping. This particular adventure led us to “see 7 states” from our tower tourist site. As we pulled up, we realized something was not quite right. First, there were rusted out cars with huge boulders setting on top of them. As we got a little closer, we noticed there were taxidermy animals setting inside of it. This was a small red flag, but we were young, on an adventure, and perhaps we thought ourselves a little invincible, so we kept driving.
As we pulled up to the building, it was the kind of place tourist go into and never come out, and as we looked up into the “tower” we were met with what I’m hoping were mannequins staring back at us. I was something straight out of a House of Wax movie. In that moment, we found out exactly how fast Old Blue was able to move.
This was the first of many trips she would make across the country. When I couldn’t wait to see the Stanfield Clan, Sherrita and I loaded up and headed to South Dakota. She guided me to Louisville to visit great friends and a side trip to the Zappos Warehouse. She drove through what can only be described as a blizzard to get me to the airport hours away, so I could make it to my first professional conference.
Adventure, we’ve seen our share together. But there were other lessons along the way, as well.
2. Community is built by spending time together!
As I was cleaning out Old Blue, there were some things I just wasn’t going to be able to clean. There are stains left in the floorboard from spills from my youth kids, or my many coffee trips with friends. There were letters from friends tucked in the glove box, my handmade coffee cozy sitting under the radio, and a “few” pairs of my favorite shoes hidden in the trunk.
Every item I found, reminded me of an event.
The shoes, for example, reminded me of a time when some of my girls (junior highers at the time) and I were enjoying their summer off. We stopped to get gas and it was a great opportunity to teach them how to pump it. What I hadn’t expected was that they had all put on a pair of my high heels they had found in the floor board. As K got out of the car to help me pump, I was met with a pair of bright yellow, green, and orange heels. We laughed so hard we forgot to put the gas cap back on and I drove off with it setting on top of my car. We suddenly became aware of it as we heard it clunk to the pavement as we pulled up to the stoplight. It rolled back several feet and once again K agreed to help. She dashed out of the car and ran as best she could in her bright high heels to come to the rescue.
It made several trips for coffee, or late night Steak ‘N’ Shake trips. We drove on back roads, sometimes listening to music and sometimes talking until we were so tired we could barely make it home.
All my relationships, friendships, community, had memories in that car.
3. As time goes by, we must learn to be innovative!
Year by year, things started going wrong as they often do with cars. I wasn’t in a place where I could justify buying a new vehicle, so I had to improvise. I had to be innovative. I had to use duct tape! If you look at the seats, you’ll see tiny slivers of silver from where I put tape to keep the springs in the chair to keep it from ripping our pants.
But, just a few months ago I had to be really innovative. I sat down in the driver’s seat and I heard a pop and suddenly my driver’s seat reclined back, all the way back! It was great if I wanted to take a nap, or perhaps spy on someone, but it wasn’t so conducive for driving. I spent the day setting completely upright and realized right away that this wasn’t going to work. My mechanic was having neck surgery and was several towns over, so I had to do something. I slipped myself underneath the seat and used my legs to push it as far forward as I could manage. Then I took a small laundry basket and wedged it in between the back and front seat. I then filled with random items so the weight could hold it in place. I was pretty proud of my innovation, until I realized there were people watching the whole situation. I wasn’t sure if I should smile or take a bow, so I opted for running inside.
There are a million more stories I could share and want to. Maybe, it will become it’s own category someday.
But today, I’m just experiencing gratitude for life I’ve been able to live the past 10 years and the car that joined me on the journey