Triggers

I sold my car yesterday. It needed to be sold and yet it was sad.

Kim doesn't feel emotional attachments for cars. For me, a given car is the car in which I . . .

My first car was a 1973 Buick Century that I bought from the Merrills for $100. They were driving to Boston and needed to sell the car on a particular day before they flew to Europe for the year. I met them at their hotel and drove the car away.

It was a big honking car. It was the year after I had graduated from college and I was living in an area of Boston known as Cleveland Circle. I taught the first half of the year at Newton North High School and the second half of the year at Newton South.

The first half of the year I got my first real job in radio. I worked at WERI fm in Westerly, Rhode Island. It was a magic time. I would finish teaching Friday afternoons and drive down to the southern tip of Rhode Island and work the Friday overnight shift. I would then drive over to the usual overnighter's house and sleep on his couch through most of Saturday. I had done this for weeks before I actually met my host. I'd then get up Saturday afternoon and do a few things before going in to work the Saturday night overnight. Then it was back in the car and driving the hour and a half back to Boston.

I was young and stupid. In the spring I got promoted at the radio station and ended up doing evenings. That meant that I would wake up at six a.m. and go teach math at Newton South. Then I would grab a quick dinner and drive the ninety minutes to the radio station and work seven to midnight. I'd end up back in Boston at one thirty and it would often take a half hour to park that boat of a car somewhere within walking distance of where I lived. Maybe not where I lived. More like where I slept.

I named the car "segue". It was a smooth transition from place to place. Until the engine burned out. One day the car died on my drive down to Rhode Island. Some guy picked me up about a half hour away from the station and drove me to work. He said it was on his way and that he listened to me every night. That was my first introduction to the intimacy of audio. You feel you know the person you are listening to.

I put a new engine in the car and that lasted another eight weeks. I decided I wasn't meant to work a schedule like this. Besides I was returning to Cleveland in a month. So I let the car go. That Buick Century was the car in which I travelled to and from my first radio gig.

There were many cars between that one and this. Each one was special. Each one had memories associated with it. I remember having to defrost the windows of my Orange Volkswagon Beetle – the old style not this new version – with the cigarette lighter because the heat didn't work well enough to defrost the windows by itself. That was my first shift car.

But the car I sold yesterday was special in a different way. That was the car that I bought when we got Maggie. A month before we got Maggie, Kim and I sold our old cars. They were great cars and fine for us. But they weren't reliable enough for us to have a child inside. Those were the days before cell phones were common and I didn't want to break down with a one year old with no way to call anyone.

So I sold my Volvo. It was old and had 150 thousand miles on it. I loved that car. The woman who bought it loved it too and took care of it. I kind of felt nostalgic when she would tell me how great it was doing.

But I had moved on. Scott, my mechanic, had found me a great deal on a nine  year old Nissan Maxima. The person who had owned it kept it in amazing condition and his wife only drove it to shopping and back. It had thirty thousand miles on it. That was the car I bought because I wanted to be a responsible father.

It was a great car. When I sold it yesterday it didn't owe me anything. At almost eighteen years old it only had ninety seven thousand miles on it. I could have gotten a better deal on it but someone that worked with Scott needed a car and had special circumstances and so I sold it to him for $100.

Maybe it was the circle of buying my first car for that same price. Maybe it was because this car was tied up in being a father. Maybe it's just that saying goodbye to the car is another trigger in the bigger goodbyes I've had to say lately. But, today is a sad day.

Don't get me wrong. I love our new used car. There just aren't any memories there. It hasn't yet had time to become the car in which I . . .

Published in: on April 5, 2006 at 7:44 am  Comments (1)  

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  1. You sold my car? The car that I learned to navigate my way around Cleveland and Shaker Heights with? You downplayed it so when you let us use it. It was a great car. But sad memories for us as well on where it was taking us.


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