It is the end of an era. In April 1996, my dad left the house driving a 1987 Honda Civic and came back driving a 1996 Ford Thunderbird. My brother took it to his senior prom; I took it to mine. This was the first car my mom let me drive after I got my learner's permit in the summer of 1998. In July 2000, we sold the 1994 Ford Tempo I'd been driving and my parents let me start driving this one. I drove it all through college, including into the rear-end of a Suburban who didn't know how to signal he wanted to turn. Yesterday, it had a lot of trouble, and I had to leave it, all too fittingly, at the old Dairy Queen in Hewitt. Today, it was pronounced dead by my mechanic, Jesse el Mecánico.*
In many ways, I grew up in this car. I remember many nights sitting out in the bitter cold while my mom finished grocery shopping. I remember spilling a root beer in the back seat and thinking my mom was going to kill me. (She didn't.) I remember innumerable trips to Ranger to visit my grandparents with my brother in the front seat and me in the back. Like my parents' old house in Hewitt (where we lived for 7 years), this car represents my coming of age.
When I got the car, I was 17 years old, and it was 37,000 miles old. The next summer, I drove mile 50,000 on the way to church to meet with a guy named Eric about a mission trip. This past winter, I drove mile 100,000. Just before Christmas 2000, my stereo was stolen out of this car in broad daylight at about 3:00 pm on a Saturday at the mall. I learned that the governor kicked in at 107 in sundry scary ways. This car, though I never "loved" it, has been with me now for a very long time. I know it very well, and if it weren't inanimate, it would know me very well.
And now it's dead. Rest in peace, T-bird. You've served me well.
*Incidentally, if anybody needs a good mechanic, Jesse el Mecánico es muy bien. I'll give you his number if you need something done.