Sunday, May 27, 2007
My Girl's Gone

My car. She's gone.

I knew this day was coming -- I've said before on this blog that I thought the day was near, only to be proven wrong; I've spent the last two years living with the assumption that she could give out at any moment. But now the time has truly come, and I can't quite believe it. My trusty old 1998 Chevy Lumina is no longer sitting in our driveway, and I will never, ever see her again.

It wasn't because anything went critically wrong -- I drove the last few miles in her doing 70 and blasting the stereo -- but it was starting to go wrong, and we decided it was for the last time. She'd started losing power at the low end of every gear, chugging and shaking up to cruising speed. It might've been the radiator, which we'd been told was about to go, or it might've been something else and the radiator. I told my mother about it on Wednesday evening. By yesterday, she'd bought a new Toyota (which she'd been considering for a long time, and which her husband was actively pushing her to do), handed her '99 Taurus down to me, and we took my old girl in as a trade-in. They got $500 for her.

I got the Lumina when it had 90,000 miles on it back in 2002, and since then I've put another 175,000 miles on her. She's been to both oceans, driven the entire length of I-40 at least once in each direction, she's driven down Sunset Boulevard and on rural Vermont dirt roads, through the desert and over icy mountain ranges. She always took care of me. She was the best car I've ever had.

The upside: I have functional cruise control again, and a working dome light, and hazard lights that turn off as well as on. The brakes and transmission are both new. There won't be any more random stalling to contend with ("please not on the freeway, please please") and no more hopping out in the middle of traffic to get under the hood and wiggle the battery terminal cable to get it reconnected. I won't have to keep two quarts of 5W-30 oil and a big jug of orange coolant in the trunk for unscheduled top-ups. The Taurus, while it's a typical matron-mobile (light slate-y blue, no less), handles better than the Lumina, which cornered like a blob of grape jelly. It doesn't vibrate at speeds over 70. The steering is tighter and more responsive, respectable for a mid-size sedan. I step on the gas, and I can actually expect her to, you know, go.

My god -- I won't have to drive with warning lights on anymore. I literally haven't driven without some warning light or another on in five years("CHECK ENGINE" from 2002-2005, "ANTI-LOCK" at any speed over 55 from '05 til presently, "LOW COOLANT" intermittently for the last year and a half or so.) I'm actually unnerved by the fact that there are no orange or red lights on the dash now -- I look down and I think for an instant that the engine power has cut out. Then I remember that this car doesn't spontaneously lose power like the Lumina did. And I marvel at how old and busted-up my car really was.

But I knew her, you know? I knew all her quirks, I knew which wires to jiggle and which warnings I could safely ignore, and I knew that I could trust her in spite of everything. She was a fucking fine automobile no matter what anyone else says. She was my girl.

Anyway, I won't be getting emotionally attached to the Taurus. Having it actually solves at least one significant problem for me in the coming months, which in itself makes the change more than worthwhile. But my aim at present is to get somewhere where I can give up having a car of my own and return to the pedestrian life I enjoyed in London. My next personal vehicle, I hope, will have only two wheels and no engine at all. I think I could invest emotionally in a shiny Dutch city bike as easily as in an ugly old green sedan.
2:12 PM ::
Amy :: permalink