Hopeful Thoughts


Do you remember your first car?

Mine was a 16 year old Toyota Corona (yes, a Corona) station wagon with a manual transmission and a matt grey repainting job that my father had done in our carport one year. (He hung plastic all around the exterior sides of the carport and we had to use the front door for weeks! ) Most kids would have scoffed at having to settle for this, but I was thrilled to have something to drive at all.  I also really liked the power of the stick shift, even in an old car!   It got me to school, home from practices, to my piano lessons, football games, and even back and forth to my summer job at Camp Don Lee a couple of times.  So many fun high school memories!

However, it was OLD, and I was heading off to college.  My parents wanted me to have something more reliable, so they bought a used 1980-something Mazda 626 from some church friends.  It was Champagne with burgandy interior.  It was a good little car, and it got me back and forth to school for the first two years, but it wasn’t really anything special.  The summer before my Junior year, I let a camp friend borrow it to go to the doctor, and he rear-ended a little old lady.  It was never the same after that.  Far from the reliable car that my parents had hoped I’d be able to drive back and forth to college an hour and a half away.

But then, out of nowhere, my dad got a call from a man he’d known since before I was born.  He was getting rid of his 1986 (I think) Chevy Cavalier and wanted to give it to me!  There’s a sweet story behind why he did it…a sort of pay it forward kind of thing.  There are lots of stories I could tell about that car and how many times it left me on the side of the road.  There’s also a silly story about how I got engaged, but all for another day!  I wish this man could have lived to see how that car impacted my life!

I graduated form college in 2000, and had driven 3 different cars over the 6 years since I got my license.  So many memories!  But none of these cars meant as much to me as the one I got in April of 2001.

I had my first job.  I was on my own.  A real grown up with my own life and my own bills.  I decided that I was going to buy myself a car.  My aunt works for a pre-owned dealership, and she tracked down a gently used 1996 Camry.  I saved my money, I lined up my financing, and I bought my first car!  36 months, 7.25% interest, and just over $7000 financed.  I was so excited!  My parents had always owned REALLY old klunkers that dad kept running by spending his weekends doing constant tune ups.  My 5 year old car was the newest, nicest thing I’d ever driven.

This one was special because I worked hard to get it.  I was the one responsible to make the payments and set up the insurance. It was a right of passage for me.  I was a successful adult because I could buy a car.

I would drive this car halfway across the country twice to visit my future husband.  It would take me back and forth to my teaching job for nearly 8 years.  It would take me to pre-natal visits, and my baby to check-ups and play dates with friends.

My pretty “new to me” car, didn’t stay that way.  The dash lights quit working over 8 years ago , so I had to learn to monitor my speed by feel or the light of my cell phone.  The interior lights soon followed in failure.  The plate around my stereo controls wasn’t properly attached after installing an after-market CD player.  The CD player itself hasn’t worked for the last 8 years.  We noticed nearly 4 years ago that the car made clicking noises when turning and found out that the CV joints on all four wheels were going bad and  could give out any day, leaving me stranded.  The brakes were repaired last summer, but I was told a couple of weeks ago that they need work again.  I can’t even remember how long it’s been since my wiper fluid system worked.  The timing belt needs replacing.  The paint is chipping off and the car is beginning to rust.  There’s a giant dent in the front passenger side that smashed the headlight.  Finally, I can’t forget how hard it’s been to go to any drive though because the driver’s side window gets stuck every time I power it down.

It’s basically falling apart and unsafe.

So we decided that we needed to replace it.  It’s taken us awhile to save up the money to buy something newer, but this weekend, we did it.  And in doing so, we traded in the Camry for a tiny $500.  The car that meant so much to me turned out to be worth so little.  It made me a little sad to say goodbye, but we’re happy to be providing a safer vehicle for our family.

Posted March 7th, 2011 in life's little adventures.

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