It comes unexpectedly. You think you have all the time in the world but, out of nowhere, things change instantly. You have no warning, nothing to prepare you. All you have is this gut-wrenching feeling that it’s over. The curtain has been dropped, and the only thing you can do is say goodbye.
A Decade Of Growth And Change
A lot was going on in my life in December 2006. I had only been in Nashville for a few months, and I was just starting to hang out with the young woman who would eventually become my wife; I was working as a customer service technician at a call center for a very prominent computer company, and I was still a few months out from signing my first (and only) recording contract.
Oh, and I bought my first honest-to-gosh car. A 2005 Hyundai Elantra (primarily because that’s all I could afford). I was 26 going on 27.
In the years since, I experienced what it was like to be an official recording artist (sort of) and lose (albeit temporarily) the rights to my own music; I married the woman of my dreams, who gave birth to the most amazing little girl I have ever met; I’ve recorded music and produced and released music videos; I purchased a house; I’ve written, produced, filmed and acted in a series of comedy sketches; I podcasted for three years with my wife; I’ve worked on just about every part of a film production that you can possibly think of, and I’ve quit, lost, and taken on many different types of jobs in a variety industries.
But in the early morning of January 19th, 2017, the only other constant during this period of my life besides my wife – that had been there when I came rushing out with my newly-signed recording contract in hand and had ensured my safe arrival to a countless number of jobs, productions, gigs, rehearsals and meetings; that had met every single Uber rider I’d ever had and listened to all my music mixes as I endlessly tried to perfect them; that had driven myself and my new bride home on our first night and saw to it that my daughter never got hurt going from point A to point B – came face-to-face with a Buick Park Avenue on the main street of Hendersonville, TN.
More than ten years after our first ride together, my 2005 Hyundai Elantra had finally taken a beating that it probably wasn’t going to come back from.
And I’m still not quite ready to process that.
Dealing With The Unexpected And Saying Goodbye… To A Car
I knew the day was coming where I’d have to trade the Elantra in for something new but, in my mind, that day was still a ways off. And, as it was, I wasn’t going to be in the financial position to take on a new payment anytime soon.
But there’s not much you can do when another vehicle pulls right in front of you from the opposite direction. When car meets car, one (or both) is going to lose.
It was rough seeing the Elantra towed off, but I knew I’d see it again. I had to – all my stuff was still in it.
When I did get the chance the following day, I took my time transferring my belongings from it to the rental (coincidentally, another Hyundai Elantra). I tapped the hood that still had dents from hail stones that had hit it in 2009, back when my wife and I lived in a town house in Antioch; I traced the lines of the front bumper that in 2015 I’d chipped all the warped and melting paint from and spray-painted black so that I could drive Uber without looking like a loser; I patted the passenger seat that still had stains from some weird cleanse drink that in 2008 a singer I used to play bass for had spilled; I smirked at the dragon decals that had been on the fenders since my wife had given them to me in 2007, and I grabbed a pile of receipts, papers and coupons from the glove compartment, some dating back as far as 2008.
I even found some burned David Bowie CDs a fellow musician had given me in 2010!
After I pulled the license plate off the rear bumper, I came back to the driver’s seat, sat down and just took a deep breath. I could still smell that acrid, burning scent that had been there since the accident. I caressed the steering wheel, put my hand on the gear shift one more time, and said, “It was a lot of fun. Thank you.”
It’s Hard To Say Goodbye
I don’t yet know for sure if that was the last time I’ll ever see that car. If it was, I don’t know if that was the proper way to say goodbye. I wasn’t really expecting to have to.
Nor was I expecting the flood of emotions that came to me when I realized how much this car had seen – how much of a part of my life it had been for over a decade. I’d like to think that I treated it well. Mainly because I feel that’s how it treated me.
It’s silly, really. It’s a car. It shouldn’t be that big a deal. After all, I bought it because, at the time, it’s all I could afford. A Hyundai Elantra was not high on my list of the kinds of cars I’d want. It wasn’t on the list at all. I never really had a sense that it fit me.
But it did. I know that now. It had to have. Through more than ten years, a wealth of growth and changes, and a lot of driving, that car fit my life like a glove. It saw all, it heard all, and it never fussed about it.
And that’s why – even though it’s just a car – it’s so hard to say goodbye.