Several years ago I remarked that the only two things I was unconditionally committed to were my dog and my car, and today I made a decision to relinquish one of those commitments.
I sadly, reluctantly but decidedly let go of the twelve year relationship I had with my beloved BMW convertible. Silly, some may think of the sadness I feel, but history leaves its mark, and for those of us who are in-tuned to the vibrations created by such events, we know that within the sadness is also a welcomed and bittersweet rite of passage to new and different things.
Since 2002, my car and I have been a pair: a couple. We have traveled one hundred seventeen thousand miles together and have lived several different lives in as many different places.
When she came to be mine I was an upper-middle class, married woman with all the trappings that go along with that status, but just a few short years later it was she who carried me and whatever belongings I could fit in her to my new life.
She has seen me through my separation from a long-term marriage and the deaths of most of my family members.
Although friendly and outgoing, I have always been solitary and somewhat distant, both physically and emotionally, from other people. I did not always show up for friends in a deep and committed way, but through the years that little car taught me how to develop, maintain and nurture a relationship. And, even though I may not have been quite ready to transfer that knowledge to humans, she set the stage for it by showing me that if I did not pay attention to her and her needs, she could not always be there for me either.
That machine has helped me move five times in seven years and made countless trips to the Bay Shore ferry to move objects back and forth from Fire Island. She and I have traveled the open road with the top down and the wind at our back. We have also been alone together through storms, such as the night rides needed to clear my head and the imprudent and reckless 110mph anger-induced campaigns.
For half a decade she was littered with books and binders as she accompanied me through my acquisition of three college degrees. Often, so exhausted from taking a full credit load at school and working a forty hour a week job, I would sneak off to spend my breaks or lunch inside this car. With the seat reclined I would nap or just rest, and it was within the walls of this vehicle that I learned I mattered and had far more worth than I ever thought I did. No one had ever told me these things or made me feel this way.
This aging beauty, like a best friend, has known more of my fears, heard more of my secrets and seen more of my tears than anyone. And it was inside this silver metal box where I found myself and learned how to be able to relate to the world on a more solid footing. Often lost and alone, I depended on her to take me where I needed to go and I reinforced that belief by decorating her with a license plate frame that was engraved with words borrowed from one of my favorite Mary Chapin Carpenter songs, “I Rely Upon the Moon and St. Christopher.”
I prayed for strength and direction to continue on my solo journey and found that she always pointed, and sometimes drove, me to the right course when I had no idea where I was going.
But I am no longer the gypsy who flew by the seat of her pants, seemingly directionless and without a sense of true self. I have arrived at the destination that was begun those many years ago by the woman with the BMW, top down, map in-hand. I am grateful for the time we spent together, and for fun times, and the not so fun times. Never would I have thought, nor believed anyone’s proclamation, that a car could transport a person in more ways than those associated solely with geography. That little silver convertible was more than just a vehicle to me: she was my friend, my guide, my mentor, my therapist, my church and so much more and, because of her, I have learned how to be a better person in my own and in other people’s lives.
Tonight I turn yet another page on a new map, this time without my old friend. Her final, and perhaps most important, lesson to me has been to say goodbye to what was, to stand still for what is and to say hello to life as it comes.
Godspeed to both of us, my friend!
Author: Brenda de Jong
Editor: Caroline Beaton