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"Imagine No Possessions"

Saturday, November 05, 2016

Ah, in America, we love our cars. I bet if I asked you to tell me about your first car (and I am, so feel free to post your story below), it would read like puppy love. Mine does...

I bought it for $500 in 2008. I was 25. I hadn't driven in probably at least 6, possibly 7, years. It was a 1997 Plymouth Neon. The A/C never worked, and the tape deck had a tape stuck in it (not that it mattered, because I owned precisely zero tapes in 2008). It was just convenient to buy and too good a deal to pass up. If it could last one to two years, that would be perfect.

As the years passed, I grew to really love that car, because it was loyal and steady. As the roof rusted, the dashboard broke, the sun visor rattled, the rear passenger lock stopped working, and the rubber bits along the doors fell off, I felt simultaneous embarrassment and pride. Yes, the Neon was a total hooptie, but it was MY hooptie, that I'd gotten a good deal on eight years ago. It moved with me to Indiana and back and had even been broken into. I have a lot of memories with the Neon!

Last night, my husband called me. He was driving the Neon out of the underground garage at his office, and it just died, right there. I went to go pick him up and find a towing company willing to tow a car from an underground garage with 6'4" clearance (found one with a driver willing to help us push the car out of the garage for the tow--we tipped him). Our mechanic told us this morning that the fuel pump needs replacing. Not worth it. The next call was to the salvage yard for them to pick it up from the mechanic. At least the Neon didn't suffer.

I am SO SAD! I went to the mechanic before the tow driver came and said a tearful goodbye. I feel a bit silly about it. My sister texted her condolences, "Oh, man." Feigning possession of enlightened wisdom and a stiff upper lip, I texted back, "It's okay. It had a long life. Except it didn't, because it is a car."

It's a CAR! It's not loyal nor steady, can't suffer, and did not live at all. But isn't it funny the attachments we have and meanings we give to our things? Cars, especially, I think, because we spend so much time with them, and they carry us around...they become like extensions of us. Little Neon was like Little Sammy, my blind, deaf, geriatric Chihuahua--No one else would ever want this car, but I took it, and it rewarded me in spades. It represented my ability to see potential where others don't, to appreciate a good value, simplicity, and frugality, to reject the throwaway culture I live in.

But really. It's just a car.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
  • BUTTONPOPPER1
    Oh, BEATLETOT, what a fantastic blog! I just loved every word. I really believe that what brought us together here was a similar feeling about these things. I remember your grief about allowing some notebooks to be thrown away. I, too, feel such a profound sense of loss, even if it's just a "thing."

    Whenever I have lost something steeped in meaning, like your 1997 Neon, it wrenches my heart so badly that I have to tell myself lots of things to try to rationalize the loss, such as "Well, it would have been lost anyway if there'd been a tsunami," or "If I'd kept it, my kids would have to throw it away after I die," or even "Well, a couple of billion years from now the sun will become a red giant and swallow the whole earth, so it would be incinerated anyway at that time." But none of these rationalizations really work. I still feel so sad.

    So I know where you're coming from, and I'm sorry that you're mourning the loss of Little Neon. Sob (not sarcastic).

    609 days ago
  • ZELLAZM
    I've been quite attached to all my cars and started naming them with Car #2 - Woodstock. Then there was Beulah, Ted and Louise. I've been carless for 4 years now and getting along fine but will probably be shopping for one sometime next year.
    613 days ago
  • KALIGIRL
    Hope your new car is loved as much!
    616 days ago
  • L*I*T*A*
    it is just a car and yet it is always there like a good friend when we need it........
    i am attached to my older model car........

    emoticon emoticon emoticon
    618 days ago
  • CHERYLA2012
    Love this post.

    It's just a car... and then again, it's more than that, it's transportation freedom. You can choose when and how to get places, especially if public transportation is spotty or just plain doesn't exist where you live.


    619 days ago
  • SEAGLASS1215
    I've had a few cars I've cried over when the time came for me to part company with them. I'm currently in love with my 2011 Subaru Outback - DH asks now and then if I want to trade in for a newer one...no way! This is the first car that I can honestly say I truly love everything about!

    Your Neon was a part of your life for so long, it became almost like a family member. It's perfectly normal to mourn the loss of something that was part of your day to day life...even if it was "just a car".
    619 days ago
  • SUGAR0814
    LOL I felt the same way about ALL of my vehicles, but especially the first one! TFS
    619 days ago
  • STEPH-KNEE
    LOL @ puppy love! ;) I love the story and I love that it was such a great and reliable car for you for so many years! RIP sweet Neon! :)
    619 days ago
  • JEANKNEE
    The attachments we have and meanings we give to our things are interesting. Your blog post along with another Sparkies post in which she shared a quote from the book Heart Yoga by John Harvery that reads, "How we relate to the body is how we relate to everything." are both resonating with me and leaving me wondering ... How do the attachments we have and meanings we give to our things relate to how we view and treat our bodies?
    619 days ago
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