The little red light above the red car is all you can see of my car.
It was Friday night, my dad and I were helping with the finishing touches on the airpark’s float for the Christmas parade. We were about to start home and we decided to do a dinner and movie night; he’d get dinner, I’d get the movie.
I ran to the nearest Redbox.
“Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter, or The Amazing Spiderman?”
“…um … either…”
Knowing my mom wasn’t home for the movie, and since she would hate it otherwise, vampire hunter it was!
I jumped in my car, and started out of town. Stopped at a red light, started when it turned green.
I approached the bottom of a hill, almost out of the town’s boundary.
And from the left a car speeds through its Stop sign. It’s powering across the road.
I’m stopped; against a fence.
Water is pouring on top of my car – I’ve hit a fire hydrant.
I vaguely notice that there’s a white bag in front of me – the airbag deployed?
I grab my phone, my first panicked thought is to call my dad. But my second panicked thought is he won’t be able to hear me while I’m in the car.
I struggle to open the door and water comes cascading in, and slams the door.
Breathing heavily, I slam my body against the door and struggle through the waterfall – drenched within seconds.
The paramedics show up, the firemen show up, and eventually the CHP show up.
We’re all checked out in the ambulance. A few bruises, a fat lip, a slight cheek burn from the airbag, and me shivering from being cold and wet, I’m ok.
The other driver and his passenger are ok.
It takes 45 minutes to shut off the 40 ft mountain of hydrant water, but once that’s shut off, my dad grabs my purse and the car insurance info, and we’re told we can leave.
Today the insurance company had my car towed to my house; where it will wait for an adjuster to come out and examine it.
The car slid back off the tow, and all I could do was stare at the smashed front.
Dad: “Like I thought, it’s totaled. The price to get it fixed is worth more than the car.”
Tow-man: “How many miles?”
Dad: “Near 200,000”
Tow-man: “Yeah, definitely done for. Looks like it would’ve been fine if it hadn’t hit that hydrant, but that tore up most of the inside.”
The Tow-man looked at me, “but it did what is was supposed to do, the car crumpled and it saved you.”
Yes it did. My car had saved me.
The Tow-man left, and my dad went back to work, and I started the process of cleaning out my things from my car.
My Blue Belle.
And since no one had to been hurt, I felt ok mourning.
Mourning the loss of my car. My first car. My companion for 8 years.
She’d been the one we picked up my dog from the pound in.
She was there when I got my driver’s license, and blasted the music proud on my first solo ride. And has blasted the music on every ride since then.
She drove hundreds of my friends home as I most often was the transporter.
She’s seen me dressed up, dressed down, and practically naked. (From changing for sports activities – nothing dirty gutter minds!)
She’d kept me safe through the (thousands) of idiotic things I did as a teenage driver.
She’s been up the West Coast, through Oregon, through Washington, and lived with me in British Columbia for a couple months.
She’s taken me on many a spontaneous outing – including spur of the moment drives to Arizona and Nevada. And has been lost everywhere with me – in rice paddies of central Cali, the forests of Yosemite, and once we almost ended up in Mexico.
She was the car for my first drive-in movie theater.
She was my source of privacy when I had none at work.
She’s been a part of my independence since I was 16.
Every time I come home from abroad, she’s waiting – waiting for me to slide into the driver’s seat and feel at home.
I know her quirks. Exactly when to stop, when to start, how to turn on a dime, how to fiddle with the radio without looking.
She’s been the second home that carries all the things I need during the day and night.
And her last act saved me at the expense of herself.
So as I cleaned her out I felt sad. I mourned the loss. For no car will ever again be my first car. No car will ever again claim my heart as she did.
I dumped out water, and bagged the waterlogged papers. I grabbed books out of the seat backs, and blankets out of the back.
And then I became confused.
I found the FM transmitter for my Ipod, but I couldn’t find my Ipod.
I checked the mats, under the mats, under the seats. But it was nowhere to be found.
I looked up, and there it was.
In the middle of the dashboard. Between the two exploded airbags.
I picked it up and turned it on – to see if it had been water damaged like so much.
And up popped the last song to be on:
And I smiled.
My car may be done for, but she still talks to me.
And maybe, just maybe, I’ll come to love a car again.