NOTE: Images could not accompany this post at this time because I did not have a digital camera when I got the car, and must dig up actual developed images at Mom’s to scan and share. You’ll have to use your imagination for imagery.
So my first car, my 1998 Ford Mustang Coupe, left home today to be with its new owner. I’m oddly overemotional about the whole thing. It’s pretty old, the odometer stopped tracking mileage a few years ago, the check engine light is on, it overheats if the drive-thru line is too long. The guy who’s buying it asked for it before it was even for sale (saw Q pull up at the gas station), he likes to fix and work on cars, it’s his dream car, it’s going to a better place, in 5 years it will be a classic, and he will love it and take care of it far better than I could. Besides, I got a better car, with no payments, and no mechanical problems <knocks wood> Thanks again, Mom!!! So,why am I sad? And why the hell am I crying? But then I realized, I’ve had that car longer than any address and about as long or longer than my most cherished friends. As it drove away, a rush of lovely memories bubbled to the surface and out by eyeballs (I used to be so tough).
I remembered talking to friends sophomore year of college about the possibilities my first car could be. My mom gave me very specific criteria (or so I thought). Certain budget, certain mileage, no convertibles, nothing red, automatic transmission (“It’s just easier”, Mom said). Other than that, I could have anything. That proved to be a lot of possibilities and I’ve never been one to covet cars. Sure the Dodge Neon commercials of the 1990s with the candy colored coupes saying “hi” totally appealed to my 16-year-old mentality, but I never saw a car and thought, I have to have that. It was actually Amy who took a sip from her Diet Coke, thought of her blue Neon and said, “if I could have any car it would be a white Mustang.” Hmmm, what do those look like, I wondered. I dashed to the internet and looked it up. “Ohhhhh, that IS cute!” Which as every gal knows is of utmost importance when choosing a vehicle to get from point A to point B safely.
I found one at a local CarMax and Mom and Dad came to visit and right the check. Here was the deal… they pay for the car and the insurance, I pay for the gas, upkeep, tickets (ahem, me? speed? never!), etc. Sweet deal!!!! My parents are the best!!! Yay, only child!! Little did my Dad know that car would be with me for 13 years. I think he figured I’d be out of college with my engineering degree, sign my first big job and be buying him and myself a new car in five years. Beautiful notion, but then I took a theatre class, and the rest is history! After a few cautionary, “are you sure? This isn’t a practical choice”, comments from my parents at the dealership, they signed the dotted line and the car was mine. I immediately drove the car to my friends’ apartment to show them. The guy friends grabbed my keys and tore it around the block (yes, tore, I don’t think I’ve ever heard the engine rev like that). Though she is much too classy and sweet to admit it, I think Amy was a teeny bit jealous, but she was my faithful car companion on rides to winter guard competitions, complete with flag poles and lots of glitter.
That car took Eryn and I to Spring break trips in Florida (thanks for the tickets, SC!!! Booo!!!). It took me to Bojangles with friends every Sunday. I lobbed off the right side mirror leaving Belvin Manor in a very hungover post-millennium-New-Year-celebration state while backing out of a curvy wooded driveway; in March, Alan bought and installed my replacement mirror for my birthday.
That Mustang took me to my internship in upstate New York, then south to Club Med Sandpiper where I met Jess and Lance. Being the only Animation team member with a car made me quite popular, and Lance kindly kept it very clean and the tank full of gas in exchange for usage on his days off. Again, another sweet deal! It was also a handy escape for Jessie Lynn and I to West Palm to spend hard earned money.
Finally, the Mustang (who I’ve never named), brought me to Savannah. She sat in the squares and collected Live Oak leaves in her wipers, speeding tickets were replaced by parking tickets (much cheaper), Spanish moss clings to her antenna, and she doesn’t get driven as fast as she used to (not because she can’t, but because I’ve grown up, just a teeny bit).
Just over a week before my 33rd birthday, and one month before my 1-year anniversary I’ve enjoyed reminiscing about fond memories wrapped up in a bright, sport white package. My life is quite different than the 20-year-old college student who picked out the car: I’m married, I own a house, I’ve started a business, I even got a Masters degree when in my 20s a Bachelors seemed a long shot, I drive a four-door sedan, my phone has a touch screen and does way more than my flip phone of 2000 (which was very cool at the time). Many things are the same, Alan, Eryn, and Jess I saw less then a year ago (at our wedding) and we keep in touch pretty often, Lance and Amy I keep up with on Facebook (where we actually comment on each other’s pictures, not that crap way where you just read updates). I still love all things creative and the occasional adventure, but I am settled. I am planting roots, I have a partner, I’m growing up.
I will never forget the roar of that engine coming to life at the turn of the key. It’s like a hello from a familiar voice. And although I have never coveted a car, and probably never will, I think that one and all of her memories will stay in my heart for many, many years.
I’ll miss you, Sweet Mustang! Love, Audrey