March 20, 2009

My 1998 Ford Escort ZX2 is dying...

...and I'm the one killing it.

I took it on in 2003, when it was five years old, young and robust and virile and buoyant. There wasn't a spot of rust on it. I would take it through the car wash and it would shine like a ruby. A big, car-shaped ruby.

I remember the trip up to camp, just after it became mine, and I wanted it to prove itself. On the open empty roads of Oceana county, I cruised down a hill on the freeway and kicked it up to 100. The engine whirred, strong and calm and confident. It panted for more, but I was satisfied. Never made it do that again, never forced it, never let it, though it was strong and eager. Maybe... Maybe it needed that. I let it weaken and atrophy, never pushed it again.

Now the age is showing. There's rust eating away above the rear wheels. Things begin to shake and rattle when I press the accelerator on the freeway, and I don't hear the calm confidence anymore. It begins to feel like walking on eggshells, and I ease off to... to be nice.

It has been leaking oil. It is perhaps a simple sign of age, perhaps a cry for attention. Either way, it's a reminder that our relationship is nearing a sad inevitable end. Every time it leaves a dark stain in the driveway, I'm reminded of its age, and my regrets at not letting it be all it could be, and how things can never be the way they once were. I took it in for an oil change today, and they told me the oil pan had rusted through, and the radiator was leaking. To change the oil pan, they have to remove the engine. All said and done, repairs would be more than the value of the car.

It is a sad choice to make, to live with an imperfect, dying, struggling automobile you once loved. It will age and deteriorate, and I'll move on. I'll begin to look at other cars, ignoring its lapsing state, thoughtless as it putters toward a sad, anonymous end in a junkyard.

But I'll be alright, eventually. I'll find another car and we'll bond. I'll enjoy the air-conditioning and cruise control, and the Escort will be fossilized in my past, placed high upon a pedestal it can never live up to. It'll be phony and nostalgic and perfect, the way I'll remember it best.

I confided in my brother about all this.

SeekUpward: I've put 95,000 miles on it
ishoppejon: you raised it from a pup
SeekUpward: I knew the end would come eventually
SeekUpward: well, it had 107,000 when I got it
SeekUpward: It tears me up inside that I'm not the primary mile-putter
ishoppejon: but you stuck with it through good and bad
ishoppejon: you have had it for the longest time.
SeekUpward: yeah, that's true
ishoppejon: don't beat yourself up
SeekUpward: I just... you think you have such a personal connection, and then you realize it's spent so much time with someone else, and you realize, maybe you just hardly know anything about it.
SeekUpward: that's all I'm saying.
ishoppejon: I understand
SeekUpward: Somewhere out there, my car has another person
ishoppejon: we can't always live our lives in the think you're supposed to go to school, go to college, get a job, and get a car that no one has ever been with.
ishoppejon: and we need to realize, Jim
ishoppejon: we need to realize that isn't always how it ends up
ishoppejon: we live one life, that of our own
SeekUpward: you're right.
ishoppejon: I'm not saying put emotion aside...take time to feel
ishoppejon: thats how a person heals
SeekUpward: I feel like intimacy is dead. And we're the ones that killed it.
ishoppejon: well, if we can kill, we can try to revive it
SeekUpward: that's a good way to think about it.
SeekUpward: Some people name their cars.
SeekUpward: I never did that.
SeekUpward: nothing seemed right.
SeekUpward: I wonder, if I knew it better, if I would have named it. Or, if I had named it, if I would have known it better.
ishoppejon: I'd like to think "Original NyQuil" is an appropriate name for my car.


ThisGirl527 said...

I once killed a car. Perhaps my parting with Pheebs was easier due to the quick swift action of blunt force trauma to the hood. I didn't watch her suffer.

Her final act was deploying the airbag, which helped my keep my Gamble nose.

I can only remember her in love.

C-noss said...

This is the saddest story about an automobile I have ever heard. Although I know this car is still in your possession what a great eulogy you have in store. Think about all the stories that come out of that car. Stories of joy and happiness to testimonies of pain and struggle. I think you should make a movie about your car. You could call it...Cars...oh wait never mind.