I don’t think our family means to do this, but we tend to buy cars in clusters. In the space of about four weeks in 2004, my brother-in-law got a new Vibe, my parents got the Saturn L300, my in-laws got a Honda CR-V, and we got our Elliott. I swear none of this was coordinated.
Again in April of 2015, we got our Volt, my in-laws got a Ford Fusion, and my brother-in-law got his Mini Cooper. Once again, this was not planned. I even wrote about our sudden need to replace our Saturn L300 — which was the very same L300 that my parents had bought in 2004.
So. I should’ve known.
Now, I will point out that this is not as sudden as it seems! There are no mechanical crises, no fender benders, no weird electrical bucking like a horse. About six months ago, Steven mused to me, “Maybe we should think about getting you a new car,” to which I immediately replied, “No.” Elliott is mine. My Elliott! Don’t say it too loud, he will hear you! Geez.
And so every once in a while, it would come up in conversation. I would always be against it (My Elliott!), but I began to think, “You know . . . someday . . . it’s going to have to happen.” Then I would look at all the cars driving around me and I only saw a sea of ugly. They don’t make Elements anymore; there’s just nothing like them.
You see where this is going, don’t you?
The first interesting car, to me at least, showed up in the form of a Chevy Bolt. It’s very similar to Steven’s Volt, except it is all electric. It’s a neat looking car, it’s different, and it uses no gas at all! Unfortunately, the Bolt is brand-spanking new, and Alabama will not be graced with one until about September.
But I thought about a new car. And I kept thinking about it, just in the back of my mind. Thinking. Reading reviews. Watching videos. Assessing the terrain.
Then a few weeks ago my mother-in-law texts me, “Hey, can we swing by? We got a new car!”
And so they did; a snazzy new Ford Edge with some neat bells and whistles. It’s a very fun ride. Ford has come a long way since the Contour, bless their hearts.
So last week, just for grins and giggles, the four of us test drove a few different cars. Just to see what’s out there. Just to get a feel. Just looking.
Then on Saturday, we signed.
And Monday, we brought him home. But this post isn’t about him.
So Elliott, who was washed, clayed, compounded, and polished to within an inch of his life on Sunday, is resting comfortably in an undisclosed location, ready to put himself on the market.
And so we come to the worst part of this ordeal. Oh my god. I have to say goodbye to Elliott. He has been my car for a third of my life! My marriage is only six months older than him. I knew I wanted him the moment I saw him, we scrimped and saved to get him, and I have loved every moment driving him.
I remember riding home in Elliott’s passenger seat in late evening on a warm summer. It had stormed earlier, the roads were wet, the air was humid and fragrant, and for some reason the hospital saw fit to let us take home a six pound baby, sleeping comfortably in the rear seat.
On a warm May day I stood next to Elliott outside my office, on the phone with Cathy, my voice cracking as we both began to realize our mother wasn’t going to make it through the weekend.
In our driveway in Auburn I mentioned to Steven and Ken that I kept smelling a funny smell in Elliott. Steven said I always smell weird things but it’s nothing to be concerned about. Ken looked under my seat and found a very ripe tomato that had rolled out of a grocery bag.
We drove to the beach. We drove to Chicago. We drove to Louisville. We drove to Atlanta. We drove to Rockyhead.
We hauled an entire dresser from my grandmother’s house. We’ve transported plants, mulch, and sod many times. We fetched drywall and celing rails for the basement. Renton, Hermione, Watson, and Crunchy have all taken a ride, though Renton was the only one that didn’t mind.
We have always called him by his name. Daddy’s car is just Daddy’s car, but Mommy’s car is Elliott.
After the composer.