Goodbye, Car

My car

When I decided to go to Africa for 6 months (and do who knows what after that), it became increasingly clear that keeping my car was not going to be easy. Insurance payments and finding a place to store it just weren’t options. And so, somewhat grudgingly, I began the process of trying to sell it about a month ago. At that time it was a very practical and financial decision, and I didn’t think much of it. Now I’m sitting here with the fattest wad of cash I’ve ever seen, no car, and surprisingly strong emotions.

I feel, for whatever reason, as if I’ve lost a friend or a long-loved pet. It can’t be the wheels themselves–if anything, having a car has been somewhat of a burden with gas prices being so high, having to worry about maintenance, etc… For the most part, I didn’t need a car in Palo Alto, and I certainly don’t need one to get around here in San Francisco. So why do I miss my beautiful white Civic?

I think a lot of things are wrapped up in it. It was the first car I ever bought, during my junior year at Stanford. I can remember being with my parents at the car lot, learning the tricks of the car buying trade, knowing what I wanted but knowing I couldn’t afford it, and finally finding a good (if expensive) match in my little Civic. That was a somewhat momentous process in and of itself, and the car loan was the first monthly payment I ever had! Definitely “coming of age”.

But fundamentally, it has to be the memories. Memories of adventure, companionship, solitude, of joyful or tearful singing in the only place I could go where I didn’t have to worry about anyone hearing. Memories of driving a girl to dinner (and trying to be all cool because I was driving stick), or memories of the drive up the 280 to San Francisco, hitting the steering wheel and crying in frustration because I’d fouled up yet another romantic opportunity. Memories of driving cross-country with David and camping in a deserted Joshua Tree, or tackling the winding 140 before dawn with Dan dozing, on our way to a climb in Tuolumne.

For me, the car was never something I got into to take me to work–never anything I dreaded. Sure, I used it for grocery shopping and day-to-day errands, but the vast majority of the 40,000 miles I put on it were road trip miles, adventure miles, real life miles. So tonight, as I watched the new owner drive away, it felt somehow wrong, as if he had stolen many of my favorite moments from the past four and a half years. I wanted to run after and say, “No! I take it back!” I think we both got a fair deal out of the transaction, but something inside says that I sold the car (“her”, if you want to anthropomorphize) far too cheaply.

Well, at the end of the day, she’s just a chunk of metal and gears, however pretty she was. And I’m not meant to care that much about a chunk of metal and gears. The memories will have to find another repository, and I’m sure they’ll last much longer than the car, however the new owner treats it! For now, I need the money to pursue the path that I’ve chosen. I could spiritualize the moment more than is necessary, and claim that it was for the kingdom of God (and who knows, maybe it is), but that’s not the point. Whatever the case, I just sold my most financially valuable possession. Not quite “everything”, but it’s a start.

So, in honor of the car’s exit from my life story, I thought I’d post a few (chronologically ordered) pictures to commemorate the role it played in a lot of really important moments for me. Of course, it’s not an exhaustive album, but it will have to do.

Goodbye, Little Car!

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