My car and I are feeling old this winter.
The Honda Civic’s doors creak no matter how much oil is sprayed on the hinges; my knees ache no matter how much Icy Hot® is smeared on the joints.
I’m a 1952 model; it’s a 1998.
It has 220,000 miles; I’ve drunk as many beers.
I’ve done a lot in my life: worked as a lineman, delivered mail, drove a school bus, broke gender stereotypes as a boy being a Kelly Girl, married, graduated with a two-year degree from a community college, served four years in the army, fathered children, divorced, bought and ran small newspapers, photographed weddings, became a habitual wearer of an orange hat, got elected twice to city council, remarried, painted houses, dug ditches, mowed grass, graduated from the university, substitute taught in the public school system, and now spend most of my time in my office playing games, watching old movies, writing and reading.
The green four-door has: shot back and forth to my childhood home in Chicago dozens of times; descended to sea level on a trip to the east coast; climbed to the mile high city of Denver; brought fish back from Northern Minnesota; and sat in a ditch outside of Solon one wintery night years ago. It’s also been, or will go, to Battle Creek, Brooklyn, Dakota City, Dallas Center, Durango, Harper’s Ferry, Holland, Jamaica, Lincoln, Lisbon, Little Rock, Madrid, Melbourne, Norway, Oxford, Panama, Persia, Rome, Salem, Sidney, Toledo, Toronto, Vail, Volga, Waterloo, West Point, Yale and Yorktown– all without leaving Iowa. It’s parked in the garage not playing, watching, writing or reading.
I’ve raised children; it’s been home to several mice families.
I’ve wined and dined in restaurants and bars all over the world including Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy and Mexico. It’s had the crumbs, sauces, toppings of tacos, Big Macs, and pizzas dripped, dropped and drabbed onto its floor much to the delight of the rodents.
My hearing, vision, hair and mental acuity are in various stages of going, going, gone. Sciatica makes my back ache, arthritis hammers at my knees and sticking synapses make me forget things that I’ve always known.
It has rust on the edges and dimples on the hood from being parked under a walnut tree. Its dashboard lights stopped working, making driving at night interesting as speed is gauged by the loudness of the wind whistling through the cracked door seals. The seatbelts don’t retract, hanging as loose as my belly. A crack in the front cowling is held together with a zip tie and duct tape. A mud flap that was screwed and re-screwed into place is now missing.
I’ve lost a fingertip, an appendix and tonsils.
Its windshield was smashed out by golf-ball sized hail while I sat inside, wondering if staying in the car was such a good idea. The back seat is ripped from one dog’s (Buzz) paws and another’s (Pearl) drool.
Neither of us cares much to get going in the morning: cold blood and oil prefer to sleep in. We’ve both seen sunny days we thought would never end.
It is on its sixth lifetime muffler and fourth set of tires.
Occasionally– I swear this only happens when we’re driving at night and a new sexy sports car passes us– it’s dashboard lights flicker bright for just a moment. Occasionally– I pray my spouse knows I mean no disrespect– my eyes brighten when an attractive young woman passes by.
Then we both go back to dim, waiting for spring.