It’s often misguided – and sometimes even dangerous – to put value, worth, and emotion into inanimate objects.
They don’t have feelings or personalities. This includes cars. As sacrilegious as it is to so many Americans, automobiles aren’t living objects, even if we give them names and speak to them as if they are fussy children.
I had to remind myself of this last night when I said goodbye to my car, that seemingly piece of shit that you see above that was actually incredibly valuable and dependable for over a third of my lifetime.
It’s just a car. But it’s also so much more.
I owned it for nearly 14 years.
As my life evolved and grew and became more complex, it was always there.
When I bought it, I was twenty-four years old and had just started dating a girl. I lived in the city and drove it less than 3 miles each way to the train station. It was small and cheap, only meant to get me to places when public transportation couldn’t and to go visit my folks on weekends. It was what I needed at the time. It had 7,000 miles on it when I bought it. It had 186,000 miles when I ditched it.
Career changes. Graduate school. From girl I’m dating to girlfriend to fiance to wife. Child. Commuting 80 miles each way for a year-and-a-half. Moving 100 miles away. Fun times. Serious times. Early mornings. Late nights. My wife had three cars while I always had the same one.
It was always there.
All of my close friends were in that car at least once, back when we would go gallivanting through Philly seemingly every night. It carried people and kegs and vacation luggage. I have so many memories of it. Those memories aren’t in the car, of course, they’re in my head. But memories not only fade, they also lie to us. And when I drove it, those memories always came back to me, like they do when you smell something that reminds you of childhood or hear a song that immediately transports you to a different time.
I held onto it for as long as I could because it was the right move financially, but in all honesty, it was also comfortable. I knew its quirks and sounds and attributes. I could maneuver it the way others couldn’t. I fit in it, hand in glove. I’ve scraped my wife’s SUV twice because I’m just not used to it and I’m so uncomfortable behind the wheel. I don’t know its dimensions and angles. I never had an issue with my little red wagon.
Sadly, it was time to let it go.
I’m too old with too many responsibilities and there were too many nights of it not starting or leaking antifreeze or a heater that barely worked. I was suddenly afraid to drive my daughter around.
It had manual locks and windows and I was infamous in my world for yelling at people that forgot to lock it. It was the source of much ridicule and mockery. It looked like a red jelly bean or Radio Flyer. I had to fold my six-foot-three frame to fit into it. I was working at one of the most successful corporations in the world and parking this next to gleaming new imports. I didn’t care. I don’t need to impress people with what I drive. A car is a depreciating asset so I put my money into other things, most especially a home. Besides, in some ways it was my calling card. But I would still get defensive about it.
I will miss it. It’s silly to have an emotional attachment to an automobile, but sometimes you just can’t help it.
Because while that car may not have been anything special, it was special to me.
Christopher Pierznik’s nine books are available in paperback and Kindle. Check out more of his writing at Medium. His work has appeared on XXL, Cuepoint, Business Insider, The Cauldron, Medium, Fatherly, Hip Hop Golden Age, and many more. Subscribe to his monthly newsletter or follow him on Facebook or Twitter.