June 18, 2014

To Kenji--My First and Only Car

Today, I experienced my first car sale. Unfortunately, I also experienced only decaf coffee this morning. A recipe for a grumpy, lackluster day.

I sold the car to a friend of a friend, a Bengali woman who has been moving around the world with her English teacher partner for many years. Small world.

Now, caramel frappe in hand, I can reflect with a least a hint of luster. I'm sipping and writing in Bookmans Cafe, a store where you can bring in old books and trade them for store credit that is also good at their cafe. Score! Alan is a book lover, so he has been trading in books buy the boxful, and I've been happily helping him drink the credits. Too bad it's not a wine bar...

Meanwhile, back at the DMV, I signed the title over to my friend, thus ending an 11 year relationship with my Mitsubishi Galant. 143,000 miles, numerous boyfriends, one husband, one major move, and many trips on Interstate 80. My car, named Kenji, has been there through a lot. High school, college, grad school, and my first year as a "realish" adult. Kenji has listened to my signing, cruised with me on summer days, steadied me on winter roads, and always gotten me to my destinations safely. 

I hit my first deer in Kenji, on a backload in Missouri when my friends and I got lost after a Ben Folds concert. We tied the side mirror on with string, and somehow made it home.

I prepared for the state swim meet in Kenji, listening to Elton John's "Philadelphia Freedom" and hoping for a fast time.

I did calculus homework before school, using the steering wheel as a prop for my textbook.

I texted while driving--behavior I do NOT condone.

I withdrew money from ATMs; I savored fast food and Starbucks.

I held a tiny kitten-my Berlin-on her first day as mine.

I worried about boys, grades, sports, girls, travel, parties, rejection, pretty much everything.

Kenji's stereo got me through the toughest times, drowning out the background noise of worry and frustration, or playing harmony to my victories and good times. 

As my husband and I prepare for Turkey, we have to make big, tough decisions about money and things. I can say that Kenji was hard to let go of. A car is freedom. I won't miss the insurance payments or the price of gas, but I will miss rolling the windows down and signing along. Here's a you, Kenji, for being there for me in a way that another human just couldn't.