I don't consider myself sentimental, but when things in my life begin to change I begin to get all mushy and teary-eyed. I don't like change and have an overwhelming fear of the unknown; even with the most minute of things. I want things to stay familiar and I want to know what to expect for every moment of every day. Change presents an opportunity for things to be different and unknown; that's what scares me.
As inconsequential as it may seem, I'm feeling a pang of sadness over the fact that I'm preparing to say goodbye to my car. I know, I know. Who cares, right? Me. I care. I care because this is the first car I've ever owned; the first vehicle I've known to be mine. The thing that makes car salesmen so sneaky is that they realize how emotional you are about your car; they realize it's all about falling in love with a hunk of metal and buying a car really is an emotional experience. It turns out letting it go is just as emotional.
I bought my car, a black Mazda 3i, brand spanking new in 2004. I used my own money as a down payment after working several jobs during college and felt such a sense of pride in knowing that I was doing something so "adult" for myself. I'll never forget the excitement and fear I felt when I wrote that huge check and handed it over to the jerky salesperson, essentially clearing out my bank account. It was scary and exciting, all at the same time.
I remember him handing me the keys and feeling the thrill of clasping them in my hand and knowing they were all mine. I remember staring at the odometer as I drove the shiny car off the lot, marveling at the fact that there were just 8 miles on the odometer. I rolled down all four windows, turned up the stereo and took my sweet time driving home as the wind blew through my hair. It was the beginning of a long journey together.
Now, six years and 98,000 miles later, we're parting ways. It might be time for us to go, but I can't help but feel sentimental about everything we've been through together. I was a 21 year-old college student when we began our journey together that summer before my senior year. Back then, my car took me to the grocery store, to jobs and internships and to my parent's house to do laundry. It took me to visit my boyfriend, who went to college some 50 miles away.
We took good care of each other over those years; regular maintenance, new tires, brakes and regular oil changes for the car and a reliable means of transportation for me. Seemed like an even trade. For my part, I maintained by psychotic, anal-retentive ways when it came to my vehicle. From regular car washes to barring anyone from eating food in my vehicle, I took good care of my automobile. In turn, it never failed to take me where I needed to go.
My car and I have been through a lot and have trudged through so many things together. It was like having a constant companion through it all. I graduated from college, took my first job, got engaged, moved across the state for a new job, got married and built a life all while driving this car. The odometer says 98,000 miles, but I can't help but think about all that is contained in that number--all the experiences I've had in those miles. All the experiences we've had together over the past 6 years.
For me, the sadness isn't about how hard it is to let my first car go. No, it's about feeling like that car contains all my best memories and fearing that letting my car go is like letting all the best parts of my life leave with it. It feels like an old friend that knows me, one that never fails to be familiar, is moving to California. Except my car isn't moving to the West Coast, it's being purchased by a relative. So, it's not like we'll never see each other again. I just hope it remembers me, that's all.
I'm certain that I'll own many cars over my lifetime, but I'll never forget my first car. We went through a lot together and I only hope that it's not too upset over the fact that my soon-to-be new ride gives me a warm, fuzzy feeling. Oh wait, that's just the heated leather seats. My mistake. Hey, if you're going to move on you might as well upgrade. Right?