I almost don’t want to say this out loud, but I fear my car may be dying a slow, painful death.
From the time I was sixteen ish (okay, almost seventeen by the time I passed the test. Yeah, I know: Go aroundthe island, blahblahblah) until I was 21, I drove whatever car my parents had laying around the house. There were plenty to chose from. My dad was big on buying $500 cars and driving them until they died. My personal favorites included the silver 1986 Escort with the tires so flat that you could feel the treads (no surprise when the front tire blew out on the highway during Spring Break), and also got us stuck in Newton on a road trip to Marshfield (I blame that on the ex boyfriend, though) and my brothers Toyota hatchback that needed the gas pedal pumped twenty times before starting. That car was retired after the brakes completely went, even though my brother said I just didn’t know how to drive it.
Anyways, I got out of college and vowed to buy a car. Never mind the fact that I didn’t have a job, which my grandmother so kindly shared with the Honda salesman after doing a few test drives. I waited until October, when I had been gainfully employed for 4 weeks, and the new Honda Civics were out and ready to go. I left the dealership with a brand new 2001 Honda Civic with 7 miles on it, and I was officially an adult with car payment.
I love my car. Its the best thing I’ve ever purchased. Its gotten me safely from RI to various points in MA on a daily basis. At one time, my commute was 150 miles a day. Every day, the Civic starts right up (well, except last winter when I had to stop with a foot on the gas and one on the brake before she got a new spark plug). She keeps on trucking, even when I accidentally run over things like curbs and rocks. Did I mention that at 7-1/2 years old, she has 186,000 miles on her? And all I’ve done is routine maintenance? The guy who sold me the car opened the hood, pointed to a blue cap, and said “see that? That’s where you put the washer fluid. That’s the only thing you should have to touch under here.” And I happily obliged.
Now, the Civic seems to be flailing a bit. It started with the death of my A/C. Driving with the windows open sucks, by the way. J & I peeled ourselves out of the car last weekend and skipped into La-Z-Boy to cool down. Now, its the radio (which, in all fairness, is a whatchamacallit — after model stereo, so not really the Civic’s fault). We couldn’t hear the radio last weekend unless we turned it way up, and now it goes in and out. Weird.
I know there things don’t really matter, but she’s also making an odd rattling noise. But that goes away. And the Check Engine light has been on for months. But my average daily commute at the moment is 6.5 miles, and next month it will go down to between 0 and 1 mile. And I treat her well: oil changes, pats on the dash when she passes inspections, apologies when I accidentally bump her. Sure, I don’t clean her like I used to, but just because she’s unclean doesn’t mean I don’t love her anymore.
I know one day the mechanic will shake his head and tell me its time to pull the plug. And I know I’ll cry, not only for the new car payment, but because of all the memories we’ve shared together. I don’t think anything can take the place of your first car. Stay strong, little Civic! You can do it!
**Post title is from “This Time of Year” by Better Than Ezra. I had a boyfriend who begrudgingly made me a boy band CD and added a few of his favorite songs as well. After our long (one month) romance came to an end, I’d hear this song (after sobbing though Brittney’s “Sometimes”) and pat the Civic’s dash fondly.