sleepers

sleepers

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

My Little Car

I had this car.
This was my first car; we bought it new just for me about twenty years ago. I looked at a lot of cars and this one, this little Honda CRX, with it's Celestial Blue color and special wheels, was my dream car. It has been a staunch and reliable friend for all these years. It's been my freedom.
It has no radio and it's a manual transmission; nothing is automatic, there are no frills. It sits low to the ground and hugs the road and it's as agile as a cat. I've always loved jumping in my car and driving off into the redwoods or out to the coast and just enjoying the drive, the wind, the smells, the feel of the car on the road, the shadows and the scenery going by. I've explored all over California in this car.
I love this car. Note the present tense. It has been nearly, oh so nearly, past tense, and my car has been in limbo for many months, waiting to be rescued. Today we got it back from limbo, and I have begun the arduous paperwork process of re-adopting it. Because you see, when you have a twenty year old car and it gets in even a minor fender bender, your insurance company will insist that it's not worth fixing, that it's worthless junk, they will total it out, tow it off to a junkyard to be scrapped. Well, they can just kiss my tailpipe, because today I got my little car back and it looks like new. It runs as great as it ever did and it is one sweet ride, let me tell you.

Our lives changed a lot when we had the boys; we got the van and my little car became the one Paul drove to work while I hauled kids around in the van. He was hit from behind while at a stoplight about a year ago, and the left taillight and bumper were damaged. The insurance company wouldn't pay to have it fixed and called it totaled. They left us feeling like we had no choice but to let it get taken away, even though the engine was still great and there was only the damage to the light and bumper. I was trying so hard to be sensible and practical but the whole thing was eating away at me. They sent a tow truck to take my car, and the driver hooked it up and hoisted the front wheels off the ground and I stood there with tears running down my face as I let him drive it away.

So I called Paul after it disappeared around the corner and he knew I was crying and he knew how upset I was about giving up that little car and damned if he didn't just up and call the insurance company and insist that we get our car back from the scrap yard. They very reluctantly and rather grumpily told him we should have gotten our act together and decided to keep it before it was towed away (which we weren't told was an option) and it might be too late, but they'd give us the tow yard's number and let us see if we could get it back, though they didn't hold out much hope. And yeah, we'd have to pay the monetary difference between the cost of the car if it were totaled out vs. the cost if we'd kept it despite it's non-operable status, so we ended up returning their money to get our car back. The money they grudgingly gave us sure didn't come close to anywhere near all the money we've paid them over the years, but then I tend to think of insurance as a gambling game anyway. The house always wins. (Bastards.)

We drove out to the junk yard and waited our turn among a number of men who were salvaging vehicles to fix up to sell again, and they found my car and drove it up to the front, with yellow numbers written large on the cracked windshield in grease marker. I climbed in and drove it home with the numbers there in front of me, and it made me cry again because I was so glad to have it back. It wasn't legal to drive, however, and it was now classified as a salvage vehicle. In order to get it legal again, we had to get bodywork done, have it pass all the inspections for a salvage vehicle and go through all the paperwork associated with that. And we didn't have the money to fix it up since Paul was unemployed for much of that time. It sat in our driveway waiting until we could save up for the bodywork for about a year.
We finally took it in to get fixed up about three months ago, and we brought it home today, with a new bumper, new windshield, new brake lights and a new paint job to boot. It looks so beautiful to me, my dear old friend all fixed up.

We nearly let it go, and I'm sure that people who have even a lick of financial sense would tell us that we should have let it get scrapped, because it cost much more to fix it back up than it's worth on paper. Financially speaking, we should have used that money to fix up other things that need it as much or more, like house repairs. We've been told before that we are not the most sensible people, and that is true. If we were fiscally responsible Paul would have gotten out of games and into a more stable sort of programming, and I wouldn't be an artist at all. God knows what I'd be, though, since this is all I've really done as a career.

But.  It would take more to get a decent used car to replace it than to fix it up (probably, unless we went with a complete clunker), and we couldn't possibly have replaced it with another car that came close to this one: a sturdy, reliable little sports car that's really fun to drive on winding little mountain roads and sticks to the road like a cat. We can't afford such a luxury item: a two-seater manual transmission sports car. If we are honest, we may never be able to afford one again. This one is the only sports car I am ever likely to own. I am the only owner it's ever had and I hope it lasts for a good long time to come. I am still in love with my little car and I am damned glad to have it again. All I need to do is slog through the paperwork now. And once I do I'm taking it for a long drive through the redwoods and driving on out to the coast to listen to the waves. Anybody want to ride along?







11 comments:

  1. A lovely piece of writing, Beckett! I am so glad you have your friend back back. It reminds me of my first car, a little blue Toyota Tercel coupe. My story with my little car doesn't have a happy ending,however. So I live a little vicariously through your story.

    <3
    Mary

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  2. We love that little car too. Hell it rescued me more than once from going crazy with the ex and it still makes me smile every time we visit.

    I'm glad she's home too.

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  3. Hey, it's going to be a true classic eventually, the way everybody loves this kind of car. Much stronger than the way people reacted at the time to things like 'stangs and Camaros. BTW, when they repainted, did they replace all those door seals? Probably somebody out there has a list of all the parts (like the rubber parts) that will need replacing, in sequence.

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    1. I know they replaced a lot of seals and rubber strips and stuff. I'd have to look at the itemized list more closely to know for sure, but they seem to have done a good job of it. It's nice to have it back. :)

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  4. oh you lucky one...i recently went through the same tho it was completely crushed on one entire side and totaled seemed to make sense since just to begin repair was over 7k. hard to let go but your little engine sounds in much better shape.mine rebuilt twice. yay for cars we love and memories they give us

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    1. Oh, that sounds heartbreaking. If the damage on the CRX had been that high to fix we would have had to scrap it too; that much just wouldn't have been possible. Sorry for your car. And hey, girl, hope all's going well for you. Miss you!
      *massive hugs*

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  5. We all feel the same thing with our cars – free! Being able to go wherever you want, with whomever you want to be, and whenever you want gives us that impression of freedom. Whatever car you are driving now, just keep in mind to always enjoy the journey.

    -Sara Anthony

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  6. I’m happy that you were able to buy your dream car on your first purchase! Though, I was also satisfied with my first car, it’s just that my first was not my dream car. Anyway, after 2 years of hard work and patience, I was able to buy my dream car in CASH! That’s what I call total freedom!

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  7. It’s almost like a new car now with all the replacements and the new paint job. Well, except for that certain comfort and familiarity you feel when inside it. :] With regular maintenance your Honda can probably serve you for another 20 years!

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  8. Soon, that would be a classic ride worth keeping. On the other hand, getting a van is a good decision. :)

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  9. Some nice stuff in your article I really feel speechless, because it is quit pretty article. Beside this it is also a long after reading lasting article. Thanks for giving me such type of useful information…Junk cars

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