I sold it to a kid who just graduated college. He paid me in cash with all the money he’d saved doing photography gigs. I only have one test drive to judge him by, but I think it’s safe to say he is a far better driver than me. My car should be in good hands.
When I was twelve, my dad told me that if I got a Division I track scholarship, he’d take whatever money he saved on college tuition and put it toward a car. One month after I graduated and three days before I moved to DC, he wrote a check for the down payment and I financed the rest.
I put the first twelve hundred miles on in three days.
I drove from my hometown back to Des Moines where I went to school, then to Silver Spring, Maryland, my first address post-graduation.
I had no idea Silver Spring was a suburb of DC, which is hysterical because it forms the District line. I didn’t understand the concept of suburbs. Where I come from, you live in the town you work in, and surrounding you is just…other towns. Never once, from the time of my application to my first day at work, did I tell anyone I was moving to DC. I always said I was moving to Maryland. I didn’t even consider the fact that I literally took a taxi from the Ronald Reagan WASHINGTON AIRPORT to my onsite interview.
I had no idea how shit worked.
At all. I was a college graduate who still thought it was legal to parallel park going against traffic. Read that sentence again. I came from a town where the population is so small that, on the VERY off-chance all parking spots are filled up on the right side of the street, I just steered in on the left, nose-to-nose with the car in front of me. And I thought that was ok.
I had no idea that I drove a vehicle with an odometer reading of zero cross-country to a city where people didn’t own cars. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know what a lease was. I was born on a FARM. Not a let’s-go-gather-the-eggs-from-chickens, frolic-in-the-meadows, pet-the-baby-goats, and water-the-organic-squash-patch vision every city person ever seems to have of farm life. Bitch, we didn’t have a single animal other than my DOG. And all hail GMO.
Where I come from, machinery—i.e. vehicles—outnumber people.
But I drove that bad boy seventeen hours, packed to the brim with almost everything in the world. By myself. From Iowa to Maryland.
Within five months, when suburbia finally entered my vocabulary, I packed that sucker up again and moved across the line to DC. And less than a year after that, I packed it up once more and moved it to Pittsburgh, PA.
The only journey that car never made with me was to Boston, in the winter of 2015—arguably the worst winter in the last half-century. I’m so glad my car sat that one out. With snow packed five feet high (and snowbanks double that) every side street looked like a vehicle graveyard. There was so much snow the town literally could not pack it higher, and had to transport it out of the city in dumptrucks, or made “snow mountains” which the geniuses at MIT somehow carved into a ski slope. The snow was so dense it pushed vehicles toward the center of an already-narrow New England street, causing them to get hit by basically anyone dumb or desperate enough to drive down it.
When I drove my uHaul up to my apartment building, I must have hit at least six.
And because it sat Boston out, I made the exact reverse trip I made two and a half years prior, driving from Pittsburgh back to the city I once left.
By my estimates, I pay one-to-two thousand dollars in parking tickets per year. My famous Christmas tree of ’16 is a testament to this sickening, albeit impressive number.
I really think, or at least I like to think, that in the nearly three years I came back to this city, my car and I really figured shit out. One time, back in 2012, my car got towed with my wallet, keys, and phone inside it. With no metro card, money for a cab, or phone to call an Uber; I ran. I ran four miles at eight at night.
And you know where I got towed from? The gym. As in, I already logged six miles plus before that little situation occurred.
I’m pretty sure I’ve only been towed once in the past three years, so you know—go me. I spent many a night lying in bed wondering if I parked illegally. I taught my old personal trainer Will how to drive in that car. He only ramped like, five curbs in it.
I started working for myself. I got an apartment without a roommate. I moved to a neighborhood where my gym, grocery store, and *almost all my friends are within walking distance. I can’t remember the last time I used GPS to find my way.
I used my car to haul dirty clothes because my apartment has negative amenities, flooring samples because I use it as photography props, and my cousin Basia because she’s crashing with me for a few months.
So I’m just a little sad.
I’m not sad about not having a car—I am fucking THRILLED to never get another parking ticket.
I’m just an itty bit sentimental because this thing was with me through five states, five jobs, seven apartments, and nine roommates (ten if you count Basia). It had three different license plates, got towed five times, and on approximately three fucking-hundred occasions, I got on a BIKE to ride around trying to figure out where the hell I parked it.
And by selling it, I’m accepting that for the first time since I bought it, I’m staying put.
It means I’m not leaving DC, a city where people spend more time in the backseat of Ubers than behind the wheel. It means I’m not leaving my apartment, where I can’t get a zoned parking pass because I live above a business, and 14th Street is a place for pedestrians, only. It means I’m not looking to accept an actual job from an actual employer, where I might actually have to commute.
I was always way better on two feet than four wheels, anyway.