I saw the sunrise warm the curves of your body. I have seen you glimmering, damp with sea-spray, and standing on the high moors surrounded by heather. I have felt secure in your embrace, safe from the cares of the outside world. None could reach me as we voyaged together across the ancient landscape, chasing dreams and the illusion of freedom. You have carried me to love and returned me to duty when the time was right.
It was not love at first sight… it took a while for me to learn to appreciate you. To trust you. And you never let me down. There had been others before… there was a lot to live up to… but if you were less beautiful than some, you were ever cheerful and enthusiastic. We have shared some difficult moments and you always rose to the occasion. All you needed was a little care and attention.
We have so much in common… and so much of how I would like to see myself is reflected in you. But, as the years passed you have become more demanding. You needed more care than I could give… you deserved better. I knew it was time to let you go. There was a moment of panic…what would I do without you? How could your place be filled by another? How could I even think of replacing you after all we have done together?
But, needs must. And, although it was touch and go, and although I almost failed at the last moment and took you home again, today I handed you over, my little Green Goddess, and replaced you with something younger, more practical, more comfortable and economical… but probably nowhere near as much fun to drive.
It was odd saying goodbye to a car. Even odder crying about it. I’ve had ten days to get used to the idea and talk to myself severely about all the excellent and practical reasons why the new vehicle will undoubtedly be better than the old. The sensible half of me cannot argue with any of those reasons and gets exasperated with the other half … the part of me that doesn’t want to be sensible.
It was, I realised, a parting gift from my little car that she was making me think. Why was I so reluctant to part with her? Why was I so attached to her? And what did it say about what I still have to learn? It is all very well knowing about the weird and wonderful workings of the mind, but when you see them in action in your own life, you have to address them.
I did a lot of thinking about what this parting of the ways was trying to teach me. We did have a lot in common, that little car and me. In some ways, the car was an expression of who I would like to think I still am. Small, getting on a bit, past our best… yet with life and excitement beneath the slightly worn exterior. We have both been asked to tackle mountains too big for us to climb…and climbed them anyway, or at least made a good attempt. Or maybe it is just projection, an externalisation of how I would like to be seen… or how I would like to see myself. The ego can find any number of ways of fooling us.
The attachment is another matter. Or maybe it isn’t. The little car has carried us on so many adventures and to so many places and I am grateful that she has always been utterly reliable. It feels rather disloyal to turn away now. Perhaps there is a fear that in letting her go, I may lose all that? With any change comes the fear of the unknown. The familiar is comfortable, even when it is dangling the proverbial Sword of Damocles over your head in the shape of garage bills for things you know are going to need fixing. With any ‘new’ used car, there is the inevitable worry that you are exchanging known problems for unforeseeable horrors. Even, says my sensible side, when it comes with a warranty from a reputable dealer.
So, while I have gradually emptied the car of all the personal stuff that had made her feel like home, taken the walking boots and staffs indoors and stowed the maps in the cupboard, I have thought about the lessons I am learning as I prepared to let her go. That is not a bad parting gift. I hope she finds a new home with someone who will love her as much as I have and care for her as I no longer can.
Meanwhile… I have acquired a comfortable, cavernous beast that has had a great deal of care lavished upon it and which an RAC review described as having a front end based upon ‘the cheesy grin of a teenager with serious orthodontic problems’. Perhaps it will also have a sense of humour. Eminently practical, it may even be big enough to transport my son’s trike and will definitely have plenty of room for the small dog and friends. I just need to make friends with it myself…