I traded in my old car. At first it felt like I was shedding old skin. I couldn’t get rid of her fast enough. She had held me down. As it turns out, she was simply misunderstood.
Everyone in this town who knew me, and many who didn’t, knew this red wagon.
Oh, I saw your car here and I saw you driving there and I saw you singing or I saw you but you looked like you were thinking about something, I saw you speeding and I saw you and I honked and wave but you didn’t see me.
To shed that car was to shed an identity that was no longer mine; that ’96 Subaru with her R(e)b(e)lyoga vanity plates told of one more a rooster than a hen. I did not renew the tags this year. That car that had a sign across her back window put there proudly by my husband, advertised my first website, the first yoga website in town, which clearly dates both of us. That car with her bumper sticker that said “Assume Nothing” was put there as a response to a friend’s misunderstanding but also to remind me daily to look past surfaces. That car had a bumper sticker that said “music heals” because I know it does.
That car was mint on the surface. She kept up appearances though she was breaking down inside.
Her clock light went out and I who am always late, was assured to never know the time.
Her trunk would not open and I who had lost my studio in a hostile takeover and was robbed in the next studio had become a traveling studio who was tired of driving and hauling props.
Her windshield wipers crashed and banged terribly. She slapped me into vigilance where I’m most comfortable, rarely comfortable in restful situations.
Her anti-lock brakes locked in every slippery turn carrying one who never was very good at slowing down or being careful with herself.
I suffered hot flashes and her cooling system broke.
I fell on my hand and it took weeks till I could grasp anything without searing pain. Steering her tight little wheel was a bitch. Her steering column broke in response. Steering fluid flowed in the streets.
I took turns too quickly and scraped her tires. We hustled, raced, knocked ourselves out getting here, going there, always behind the clock, always pushing it. Hobbled with plantar fasciitis, I faltered but never stopped, never changed my pace or intensity. She flew on patchy tires.
I believed that driver’s seat was the cause of chronic sciatic pain but did my imbalanced bottom alter her perfect seat or did that seat take me down? The lines are now blurred. Perhaps I should have assumed less when I called her a ‘lemon’. I should have regarded that the bumper sticker graced her bumper, not mine.
Her radiator dehydrated but her alert systems did not reveal her discomfort. She would keep going: Except her engine blew up.
I bought her a new engine that I am still paying off. Her water pump broke and she didn’t stop there.
I had her oil changed on time, I kept the tires full. I ran her through the car wash at the local gas station but never had her detailed. I ran her despite murmured protestations and took her to the doctor only when she insisted on decline. I did what I was supposed to do; the minimum and I thanked her as often as I swore at her. Thank you for not killing me interspersed with GODDAMMIT.
Oil leaks stained the driveway like a bloody battlefield, I poured oil into an engine that couldn’t digest it but I insisted that she try.
Her headlight covers slowly oxidized as my own weakening eyes demanded glasses. I had her covers cleaned and I bought glasses but still on a dark night, even her high beams could barely light the way and I who couldn’t bother to wear the glasses, opened my eyes wider and sped blindly on.
My friend Sally, the energy worker, saw my new car and the first thing she asked me was; did I say goodbye to the old one. That was a funny question but maybe Sally knew the answer. I had not. I had been as careless with that car at the end as I am with most relationships I am done with. I just walk away. Then I have regrets. Her question did not break my heart but my answer did.
I had to acknowledge that letting go of that car was my hope in letting go of myself. I had to acknowledge that maybe that car had taken on my shit and I had called her names. And I had to acknowledge that letting go of myself meant letting go of some fame and love and a time of abundance and then loss that broke my heart long ago. I also had to acknowledge that the people closest to me who found the car’s imperfections an assault are the same people that cannot abide me to be less than perfect.
In truth, I did say “thank you” to her as I was cleaning her out, removing a significant part of my life. I was amazed at how much she held, amazed at my own duplicate security blankets of pens, paper, hand sanitizer, lip gloss, tissues and dental floss, mostly untouched. I was shocked that I had made that car so much my home, putting there what the house could not hold.
My husband and son took my car to the lot while I was working. I had insisted the dealer to take it in the deal for a new (used) car, saying I would not sell that car as is because I did not want a teenager driving it. She looked like the perfect car for a new driver but I did not think she could be trusted. I did not want anyone hurt.
A new sweet client saw my new car and named her Lilly. I do not name cars though my Subaru, the exception, declared herself ‘Su’ from day one and so she was called. This Toyota may have become Yoda to me, and as the namesake of an awfully cool wizard, why not, but I tried Lilly out on her and she seems to agree. I hope to treat both of us like delicate flowers. May we bloom long and shine bright. I hope to give her wings.