When I was 16, I got a red, 1977 MGB convertible. Actually, that's a lie. I got it when I was 12, but, for obvious legal reasons, it wasn't really mine until I was 16. And, then it was really my parents' seeing as they paid for and housed the thing, but that's just getting picky. And getting me sidetracked. I was overjoyed at 12 at the thought of driving a real live convertible when I finally got my license. For 2 years, I had happy dreams of what would be described as totally awesome (it was the mid-90's). When I got my learner's permit at 14, I started in my mother's Maxima in the parking lot where now sits a Chick-fil-a. There was no business in that building at the time, so other than the fact that it was on the main thorough fare, it was generally out of public view, and not really embarrassing at all. After practicing in the lot, my mother instructed me to drive home, which wasn't that far from there. I would now swear that the mailboxes and curbs jumped out of my way as if I were the Knight Bus (see Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban for full reference). I'm pretty sure there was a hole in the floor from her trying to brake for me and I'm sure aspirated a few bugs with her gasps of horror all the way home. Needless to say, that ended my one driving lesson with my mom. Those reins were passed to my dad, which was fine since I would soon need to graduate from the Maxima to the MG, which was a stick.
I'd love to save face and tell you that I hopped in that baby the first time, and took off like some kind of NASCAR prodigy, but I did not. After many, many, many tries, I had made no progress and was pretty much convinced I would be walking to high school because there was no way I would be able to drive that car. About 2 months before my 16th birthday, though, I'd realized I was going to need to take some serious action in my driving skills acquisition if I didn't want to endure the mom drop off in front of high school forever. I was one of the lucky sophomores to turn 16 the first semester and I needed to take full advantage of the situation. So, I buckled down and learned how to drive that thing.
I thoroughly enjoyed the 2.5 years I drove it, but I knew that as much as I loved the car, there was no way it would be able to accompany me to college. I was convinced that I would be walking to college, when I received a fantastic graduation present-a 1997 Mazda Protege. I loved this car. Not because it was the most beautiful car in the world, or the most sought after, but because it had a seat belt that I thought might actually save my life in a crash, rather than just help to pin me in as I careened off a cliff, unable to escape a fiery death. (The MG wasn't exactly 5 star crash rated.) That car did me well, hauling me home and back for 4 years of college, and then for the first year my husband and I were married. It drove me to my first and only job interview, and heard me squeal with delight when I got in it upon being offered the job. The following fall, a week before I started my new job, we decided it was time to part ways and we traded in the old girl for a Volkswagen Jetta TDI. I had very mixed feelings but in the end the brand new, shiny, silver, leather interior, 5 speed, diesel engine won me over. Who would have thought I would choose a stick after my learning experience. Still, I said goodbye and went on my way. That was in 2006.
Fast forward to June, 2010. My husband and I were celebrating our 5 year anniversary and we went to the big city for dinner. While searching for a parking space, I said "OMG!" No, I'm kidding. I'm not 12. I said "Look over there! Does anything look familiar?" Sure enough, he spotted it. there was my old Mazda.
How I know this is my old car and not one of many identical 1997 Mazda Proteges? Allow me to highlight some places of interest in this picture.
#1-This is the place where my dear younger brother hit a foul ball in a baseball game, which avoided every single car in the parking lot, except mine. Obviously, sibling love knows no bounds.
#2-Dented gas cap cover, which I still don't know what happened.
#3-The exact mark of a hexagonal bolt that held on the license plate of a car that I may have gently nudged when trying to parallel park once during college.
There you go. That's all the proof I need. If I could have seen the front bumper, I know I would have found the scrape marks where I may have accidentally run into my brother's basketball goal that was laying beside the driveway. (After typing all this, I'm pretty sure I know now why my husband is so hesitant to let me drive him anywhere. I'm thinking I might not be that great behind the wheel.)
The moral of this story: Never give up hope that a goodbye-even a goodbye to something as trivial as your old vehicle-is forever. You never know when you'll be staring into the face of a thousand memories and enjoying a blast from the past.