To the car that taught me how to let go

Some things just aren’t meant to last
by Jason Tulio | Feb 14, 2019
PHOTO: Dieter Laskowski/Freeimages

Hey. I was doing just fine before I met you.

Well, not really. Before we met, I relied on public transport and the generosity of college dormmates to get around. And if those weren’t available, I was forced to use my own two functioning (albeit lazy) feet. Honestly, life was okay without you. At least it was when I lived the idle life of a college student who merely needed transport for the odd drunken sojourns across town. But when I graduated and my priorities changed, I knew my lifestyle needed to shift as well. I couldn’t just move to the city in a broke-down car, you see.

I still remember the first time I saw your Aurora Blue mug while browsing the secondhand listings. I only ever wanted a reliable daily driver. No flash, no pizzazz—all I needed was a simple appliance to make my life easier. I didn’t bother considering your brand at first. You see, you and your kind had a reputation for zoom-zooming all over the place, combining car and driver into one with some kind of horse metaphor wedged in between. It sounded like a lot of fun, but entirely unnecessary.

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But when those appliance listings didn’t turn out liked I’d hoped, there you were. Seven years old with 80,000 or so kilometers of age. You had flash, but you also had a 2.0-liter plain gasoline powertrain with a six-speed manual ’box.  You fit the bill as far as specs were concerned. I figured, why the hell not?

Remember that first drive we took? I’ll be honest, I had my doubts. You weren’t as roomy as I thought you would be, and your clutch’s bite felt off. But the moment I shifted to second gear with confidence midway through a steep climb, I knew you were a car with substance.

You were no saint if I’m going to be frank. You gave me your fair share of problems. That clutch replacement wasn’t cheap. And I won’t ever forget the time I had to leave you parked by the side of the road because you scared me half to death by losing traction on a wet incline. As attractive as your Aurora Blue paint was, I hated the fact that it attracted scratches like eyes to a Liza Soberano billboard. And who could ever forget your unforgiving ground clearance? I scratched your front bumper more times than I could bother to count. Yeah, sorry not sorry.

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Our tryst was brief, but throughout those formative years, you were there. You accompanied me through those early-morning drives filled with introspection and career-fueled self-doubt. You shuttled me to and from my dead-end paying job and unpaid freelance writing gigs, all the while shouldering my quarter-life crisis angst. I did my best to repay you. Those Saturday mornings we spent listening to the radio while I did my best rendition of wax on, wax off were as therapeutic for me as I’m sure they were for you.

In some ways, I have you to thank for the career I’m in now. I’m not sure I would’ve turned out to be a motoring journalist had I not dived headfirst into learning everything I could about your every quirk and habit. I had driven cars before, sure, but it’s different when it’s your own. It was you who showed me what little things like proper tire pressure, wheel alignment, and grit-free brakes can do.

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It almost seemed like fate when I had to let you go. It was weeks before I was scheduled to leave the country, and I hadn’t gotten so much as a nibble on your sales listing. I can’t even imagine what it must’ve been like withstanding that vicious hail storm. Those welts you had were pretty big. Some were as big as golf balls, even. I just didn’t have the heart to tell you, so I pretended to you that everything was still fine.

The inspection lot of the insurance agency sure was unforgiving, right? It didn’t take those cold-hearted souls long to deem you a complete write-off before offering to take you away from me for good right then and there. Part of me knew it was going to happen, but it didn’t make parting any easier. I couldn’t help but wonder to myself as I took one last look at you. Where were you headed? Were you still going to be used on the road, or pulled apart for scraps? Would you be going to a new owner, and if so, would they care for you as I did? I still ask myself those things sometimes.

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It’s not true when they say that we ain’t ever getting older. Life only ever moves in one direction, and sometimes we have to move on in order to move forward. I guess you taught me that.

I hope you’re doing well. Wherever you are. 

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PHOTO: Dieter Laskowski/Freeimages
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