I put every dent in that car.
Hadley arrived two weeks after my 19th birthday after a desperate plea to my father about escaping my current living situation. It wasn’t outright, my mother taught me well how to manipulate. Instead, I called him up and said, “I’m working two jobs so I can save up for a car. Once I get a car, I’m going to move out of B’s house.” And my father, never too excited that my boyfriend and I lived together, was right on board with me getting away from that house.
Hadley already had over 150,000 miles. Her paint was peeling slightly, but when we pulled into that parking lot and I saw her for the first time with that “Happy Birthday” banner taped over her bumper, it was love. She was escape. She was freedom.
And I drove her like we were free, like we were above the laws of man and nature. There were never any serious accidents, but we squealed tires and skidded to stops and hydroplaned and slid and a few times, I thought the car was going to flip on turns I took too sharply. Once, someone ran into the side, and another time, I ran into the guardrail on a turn I took too early. There were the occasional “hitting things against the bumper”. There was no air conditioning. When it rained, I would have to drive with the windows down. The heater would have to be kicked at from the passenger’s side up until I got the actual fan fixed. I worked on the engine more times than I can count. Christmas presents were parts for the car, something else that needed fixed.
But through all that, she persevered. We persevered. In 2012, someone said she wouldn’t last the year. She could’ve gone another five, I’m sure of it. She was magic.
And there were the memories we shared. Cigarette burns trailed up the driver side near the window. I was learning how to smoke and drive, and A sat next to me and my hands would shake, I was so nervous around him. I would watch him drive my car, gripping the “oh shit” handle but still having faith in him that he’d get us back to his house.
There was Jay in the passenger seat and Ida in the back as we blasted Beyonce out of the one good speaker and danced at stoplights.
There was driving home from the Gogol Bordello concert, falling asleep in the backseat at a rest area cause I couldn’t make it all the way home.
There were those months where I was homeless and slept in the car in a Walmart parking lot.
There was my father and I fixing the spark plugs.
There was my mother helping me filled up my oils and liquids before heading back to Maryland. We both agreed that car never should’ve made it there with how low everything was, but it had.
There was this last time, where the radiator hose split and I knew I could fix it, I knew. And so Beatrice and I stayed up all night, trying to find that stupid part that no place open had carried.
Hadley was more than a car; she was my best friend. And I wish I could’ve passed her on to someone else, for someone to appreciate her as much as I had. But with over 250,000 miles and a back door that won’t open, dents and scrapes and no a/c, no one would buy her and it broke my heart, but I took her to the junkyard. I got $270, but she was worth so much more than that. She wasn’t broken. She could still travel.
Is it ridiculous that I’m this upset about a car? It was just a car, right? Just five years of my life.