They say that the walls of houses hold many memories of the lives that were lived within them. I would say the same goes for the inside of a car.
This week, I said goodbye to my car of eleven years and hello to a new one. During the past several months, when we were talking more seriously about buying a new car, I started thinking about all the memories that I shared with my car—all the life experiences I have been through since I got it—and I wanted to write a tribute to her. (My car’s name is Raven, by the way, and I am pretty sure it’s a girl.)
Raven didn’t just prove to be an extremely reliable car with almost no issues in all the years I owned her; she also progressively held more and more significant memories in her interior as the years went by.
She drove back and forth every day from Grimsby to St. Catharines, when I lived in Grimsby and worked in St. Catharines. Then, when I lived in St. Catharines and worked in Grimsby, she said, “no problem; I will do the opposite now,” without complaint, and proceeded to drive every day from St. Catharines to Grimsby. She drove to Pennsylvania several times to visit friends (that would be my friends, not my car’s other Toyota friends, just to clarify—that would be weird; can you imagine?!), and those trips were always different—once I drove the entire way without stopping once (Raven was so incredibly exhausted by the time we got there), and another time, I painfully grinded her left wheels along the curb of a toll booth while the toll guy just laughed at me (and Raven silently cried).
I cried many tears within the safe walls of my car when I was going through a divorce years ago—for months, it seemed that any time I got in the car and closed the door, I was alone and safe to just let out all the emotion I was feeling and had been holding in since the last time I had driven somewhere. Raven was a safe place for me to let go; Raven was a haven for me to relax, gather my wits, get my s#%t together and process feelings.
I remember listening to Arcade Fire’s released-that-day album Neon Bible, my emotional capacity bursting at the seams when I heard “Intervention” for the first time, in the winter of 2007, in my car. Really, any time a new album came out that I wanted to really get to know, I would play it, in that car, on repeat, until I knew all the words, all the key changes, all the drum fills, all the powerful transitions.
Both of my babies were brought home from the hospital in that car after they were born. We have transitioned through a variety of car seat orientations in that backseat. Now I’m going to blame the boys here because they can’t defend themselves: “the kids” even spilled some weird orange goo in the backseat that I couldn’t get out of the fabric until we got some highly-effective car interior stain remover about a year ago. I was excited to clean that spot out, but I kind of missed it afterward. It just felt like part of Raven after a while, like a new freckle or something.
After eleven years, naturally, I knew my car’s limits. I could whip into a parking spot without hitting anything. I could adjust everything I needed to with the speed and adeptness of someone versed in sign language. Raven still kept some secrets from me to keep things interesting, though—I just figured out how the child lock thing worked a few months ago, and I am still not 100% sure how to pop the hood, but I was always confident I could figure it out pretty quickly if necessary.