You got me from A to B—
a flash of turquoise that people around town recognized as me,
drawing friendly honks, waves, and the occasional gossip when spotted at the liquor store or the Catholic Church.
You did not lend yourself to anonymity,
“A 1994 Plymouth Acclaim,” I explained to a group of writing students who walked me through the parking lot after a lecture once. They took one look at your rusty hood and peeled paint and promptly changed their major.
They didn’t have the guts—
these kids who were younger than you and I,
these kids who were just babies when I inherited you from my father as something of a graduation present.
My father called you the Easter egg car.
My mother called you the girly car.
My sister called you the Turquoise Wonder.
That last one stuck.
Sure, I apologized sometimes for your quirks— mostly for the way your automatic seatbelts sprang to life whenever the doors opened, catching people by surprise, messing up their hair, and occasionally holding them hostage in the passenger seat—
But we took care of each other, you and I:
Dan ensured your oil was always changed.
We replaced your transmission.
We put in a CD player so you could play something other than the Ace of Bace cassette tape that got stuck in your teeth sometime in the late 90s,
and so that summer after summer,
I could sing Alanis and Adele at the top of my lungs,
fireflies hitting your face.
No one has ever heard me sing like you’ve heard me sing.
In turn, you let me cry into your steering wheel and junk you up with candy wrappers and pens.
You took me safely to my first job at a daily newspaper,
to interviews on city streets and pig farms,
to the hairdresser on my wedding day,
to my first meeting with a publisher,
to my parents' house to cry after I was rejected by that publisher,
to my first book signing,
to Jersey and West Virginia and Nashville and Florida on road trip after road trip,
and safely to my driveway just seconds before your timing belt finally went out.
“That could have been bad if it had happened out on the road,” Dan said after peering under the hood. “That was a close one.”
You got me from A to B.
I’d like to think we did it because we didn’t want to press our luck anymore,
because repairs cost more than the Blue Book said you were worth,
because you didn’t have anti-lock brakes or passenger-side airbags,
because we really couldn’t have you breaking down on a late-night drive home from the airport or on a busy interstate,
because of fuel economy and our deepening concern over climate change.
But I think a small part of it was pride.
A successful author shouldn’t have the ugliest car at Wal Mart.
A successful author shouldn’t get stuck in a parking lot because her turn radius stinks.
A successful author shouldn’t scare off budding talent with rust stains and old tires.
So on the last day of the year we took advantage of one of those big sales and got a new car.
“A 2012 Honda Civic,” I can now tell the students, who will not care because, as lovely and reliable as it is, there is nothing poetic or endearing or quirky about a 2012 Honda Civic.
They won’t stifle giggles or take in breath.
They won’t get their free reality check.
They won’t think twice about their majors anymore.
No, they’ll just press on without counting the cost,
Never knowing that sometimes you gotta chase down your dreams in a car that’s older than the dreams themselves.
You got me from A to B—
and then some.
A flash of turquoise,
a confessional in motion,
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