“If you’ve got any emotional attachment to the car,” I said to my boys, “make your peace with it now.”
From the couches by the TV where they spend their summer days, they shrugged.
I had just agreed to accept $149 dollars for the crumbling husk of my 2004 Saturn L300 station wagon, the car that got us this far.
She was a beaut when we picked her up, brand new, off the showroom floor. We chose it because we knew we’d soon need to add a third car seat in the back, and our other car wouldn’t fit them. But we loved it for the six-disc CD changer and drop-down DVD screen.
Yeah, I know. But it was 2004.
Between the three of them, the kids must have vomited a couple dozen times in that back seat. Now, 13 years later, the back carpets wear a mosaic of stains that defy forensic examination. Somewhere in between, the kids grew up, the car got paid off and I drove it absolutely into the ground.
By the time I said goodbye, the leather driver’s seat suffered from psoriatic tears, its seat-warmer long disabled. There may have been some cigarette burns as well. After enduring years of coins being shoved into its DVD slot, the player broke. Once it began sucking from the car battery, I tore it out by the roots and flung it into the trash.
Its body resembled that of a mediocre prizefighter who stayed in the ring a decade too long, its front bumper hanging like a broken jaw below yellowed, hazy headlights. Its electrical system had the automotive equivalent of nerve damage; Its wheezy radiator I patched up with a fiberglass boat sealant, but still it always ran hot. And for the last few years, every time I got behind the wheel I wondered if it would be the last.
It was without a doubt the biggest piece of crap I have ever driven, and I once bought a truck from a bar.
Now’s the part where I pivot and say something sentimental about the car and its place in the history of our family or something. But I just can’t bring myself to do it.
I hated that car. But I’ll always remember it.