This week I had to say goodbye to one of my oldest friends. Someone who I’ve known since I was 5 years old, 22 years of my life with her and now it’s time to move on. Something we both knew was going to happen sooner or later, for her sake, it should of have been sooner. We’ve done everything together, road trips, late night drives to Harbor House in High School, going out to Louisville for school, random trips to this part of Kentucky, that part of Ohio and who knows in Indiana, countless nights out at bars and friends’ houses and bringing me back home in 2012. We had the type of friendship that didn’t need many words, mainly I would talk to her and when she needed something taken care of, she would let me know and I would do my best to make things right. But last year it dawned on me, that the things my friend was asking me for were hindering my future, spending time, effort and money on her wasn’t gonna help me in the long run, on the contrary, it was like throwing money into a sinkhole. So I did the responsible thing and decided it was time to start looking for a new car, that search ended last Sunday.
This friend of mine is my 1993 Toyota Camry, named “Putters”. A car my parents bought for my Mom in 1994, the first adult purchase they made together. From 94-2007 it was my Mom’s car, then Putters was given to me and I bought her a few years later for a steal of $1, thanks for the discount Dad! As a kid I saw almost my whole world through that back passenger side seat, any family event we went to, any time I went to work with my Mom, trips to L.A. for the day, if there was a place the 3 of us were going, Putters took us there. Then when she became my car, the world was my oyster and she was the ship that would take me to them. Even after driving all the way to Louisville, Putters was excited about our adventures together. The countless hours just driving around because I lived in a dorm and didn’t want to always be there, late night drive-thru pickups or Denny’s runs, Spring Break trips to a friend's river house, my first time driving after an ice storm! That was a fun experience for both of us; me not exactly sure how to drive and her not having tires made for such weather made that short 5-mile drive seem longer than it actually was.
It was in my last few years in Louisville that I started realizing Putters was getting older. In the span of two snow storms I lost my driver side and front passenger side door handles. Darn things just popped right off since they were frozen. The AC stopped working, could still blow hot air, could blow mild air, but if I wanted that crisp cooling AC, it wasn’t going to happen. Not the best thing when dealing with humid summers, but hey, she defrosted in the winter and that was way more important. And when I made the decision to move back to California I made a deal with Putters; “You get me home, and I’ll make sure you retire to a good place.” And she did her part, from Louisville, Kentucky to Huntington Beach, California in a 2-day span, like a champion my car delivered when she needed to and got the job done. Though I will admit, after crossing the Arizona-California border, she wasn’t too happy about still going. Then like Michael Jordan returning in number 45, we had to put the retirement talk to rest for a bit. Then there was the big transmission replacement 3 years ago, an investment that made me decide to stay with her for just a little longer. It was at the end of last year that Putters and I had a real nice conversation about our future together and things were made clear. She knew it was time for me to move on, she had known it for years, but it was I who had to be convinced and pushed away before I came to the realization that it was time for a new car.
I love Putters, I will always love her. 22 years isn’t something you can just throw away, not something you can forget even if you wanted to, which I don’t. In my 27 years of life I have learned that while the feeling of love may not change, the expression of it can. Was me holding onto a car old enough to drink my way of not growing up? A way for me to keep the Member-Berries fresh in my mind? Me being cheap? Probably a combination of the 3, and probably some more stuff as well. But one thing I know for sure is that car was there for me every time I needed her. And as I hand my keys over to Kars-4-Kids, I may not know exactly what is going to happen to her, but I do know that she’ll continue helping people in one way or another. Let me raise a glass to you Putters, my first chariot, my first ticket to see the world, my first Family Car, while you have been replaced, you will never be forgotten.