Family trips to Florida, Vermont, Toronto, the Upper Peninsula, North Carolina, New Jersey and Tennessee translate to many thousands of miles and days of time shared together in our 1999 Honda Accord. Time spent talking, listening (to music, books on tape, NPR), arguing, refereeing, eating and sleeping. 72,000 miles in commutes to art school for Doug and more than 50,000 miles in commutes to work for Risa was time spent alone thinking about life, work, purpose, future, family, challenges and opportunities. Sometimes those drives brought welcome solitude. Other times they meant unwelcome distance between where we were and where we wanted to be.
In our Honda both kids learned to drive and had accidents (minor, thankfully). It’s trunk held our suitcases, groceries, golf clubs, tennis racquets, passing dishes, gifts (for weddings, graduations, holidays, birthdays), new stuff, old stuff ready for donation, lots of tools, plants, cheerleading uniforms, soccer gear, coolers and beach towels, puppy food and eventually large-breed dog food. Its seats have held family, friends, co-workers, dogs and strangers. Its tires have carried us safely over water, snow, ice, gravel and pavement.
We said goodbye to our faithful car this week, with 257,000 miles all of which we had driven. With a little rust and worn leather seats, it still runs great and rides smoothly and comfortably. It’s a little odd not owning our Honda anymore. It’s been a fixture in our many driveways for the last nine years. The people who bought it said they were going to ship it to Africa to a relative. It’s hard to imagine our car on another continent likely for the rest of its useful life.
It also seems weird to experience such sentiment over a car. Unlike others I know, I’ve never named my car or referred to it as a he or she. Rather, I’ve become a strong advocate for walkable communities, lessening our dependence on the automobile and expanding our options for efficient and effective public transportation. Maybe it’s not the car I’m feeling such sentiment over, but the time and stage of life the car represents. The kids were 11 and 13 when we bought that car. A lot has happened since then and the car had frequent stage presence.
Selling the car symbolizes the new stage of life we’re in. We no longer need two cars. We’re not running to multiple school-related events each week or coordinating complicated schedules. We no longer live where everyone in the house needs a car to get everywhere they need to go every day. And we’re working on simplifying…which ultimately means less stuff.
So it’s good. It’s time. And I’m enjoying a new pace of life. One where we use our only car for leisure trips and otherwise we walk, bike, take the bus or simply enjoy staying at home. We’re slowly switching gears. Goodbye our trusty car. Hello new simpler, quieter life.