I was in a car accident about a week before November. Thankfully – and miraculously – I was not hurt. My car, on the other hand, was totaled. The front end had been smashed in, and even though I was able to drive it the 1.1 miles to my house from the scene of the accident (story about that later), I knew that my beloved car of eighteen years was another casualty of this incredibly difficult year. The junkyard picked her up on Tuesday. I wanted it done before the New Year, making it the last heartache of 2020.
I bought “Zoey” at the end of 2002. She was a 2003 Mitsubishi Lancer and the first “adult” purchase I ever made. My dad had gone with me to look at cars, and he was my cosigner on my loan. I found the paperwork for it when I was looking for the title. His signature is right below mine, with the little star he would always put before the “M” of his first name.
Zoey gave me a sense of freedom during the years with my ex-husband. We had lived with his family and the only time I would have any privacy was when I would take Kira out for a ride. I would always rest my hand on passenger seat for Kira to lay her head on. The nap of the fabric in that spot was shiny from my hand having been there so much. Our exertions consisted mostly of trips to pick up sushi, going to the bank, and most of all trips to Dunkin’ Donuts. In the five years since Kira’s passing, I would still look at the passenger seat and see her sitting there, prancing in place as she waited for a cookie from the bank, or a piece of doughnut.
Lancers are smaller cars, but I swear that Zoey had been hit with a “Capacious extremis” charm because the amount of crap I was able to fit in there was unbelievable. I moved an entire one bedroom apartment in that car with only a little help from best friend’s truck for the mattress. Every Christmas I would haul a 7ft tree and totes of ornaments from my mom’s. I drove to Trenton and brought back four 96″x16″ plant bench tops. The warehouse manager laughed when I showed him the car I would be taking them in, and then he applauded when I pulled it off. I bought nine 7-foot-tall fruit trees on clearance and fit them all my car. A woman was walking into the store as my mother and I as were loading them in the car and her jaw dropped when she saw all of those tree disappearing inside. There was admittedly no room for a passenger in the car but it was still pretty bloody impressive.
The car was so damn rugged too, so badass. This is the car that I turned into a teeter-totter at a hipster concert out in the stix, and would also plow through snow banks when I didn’t want to shovel. Unlike a lot of smaller cars, she never slid in rain or snow. I always felt safe and comfortable despite my back issues in my car.
I had managed to hold my emotions together immediately following the accident, but I became hysterical as soon as the police left. I was destroyed about my car, but I was in a blind panic that my back, which I had been working to reconstruct since June, had been injured. My mother took me to the hospital, but when I finally was able to calm down I was fairly sure that I had made it through safe and left. It was truly was miraculous considering how delicate I am – I still say thank you to God whenever I think about it – that I wasn’t injured at all. It felt like Zoey had given her last to protect me.
The night before the junkyard was scheduled to pick up Zoey I cleared out all of the random junk that had accumulated through the adventures over the past eighteen years. I found a “Commerce Bank” pen, a bank envelope with a dog cookie still inside, and napkins from Dunkin Donuts when I cleaned out the glove compartment. On the floor in the back were some stray pieces of straw from the 9ft corn stalks I had managed to haul home in October. In the trunk was a box with miscellaneous junk from the last day at my old job.
After I was finished cleaning I just sat in my car and listened to the radio for a while. The battery still worked despite the cold weather and not running for over a month, but it didn’t surprise me. I know it’s stupid to anthromorphize inanimate objects the way I have for this entire entry, and God knows I’ve experienced enough loss that I shouldn’t cry over a car, but it really felt like I was losing a friend. I sobbed as I thought about the past eighteen years – nearly half my life – and how much that car meant to me. When I was done I told her that she was the best car ever, there will never be another like her.
So thank you Zoey, not only for doing your part to keep me uninjured in the accident, but for eighteen years of memories. Of drive-thrus and donuts, overgrown fields and snowbanks, of fighting to get the temperature knob to turn on the console and fitting ridiculously large items into the cabin. I’ll never forget them.
I’ll never forget you.