Today I’m going to tell a different story.
This is the story about me. Well, about how I became me. The story of a boy and his car… and how the two of them were left behind on a highway in Alabama.
It wasn’t my first car. That was a gray Toyota Tercel Wagon that my father worked tirelessly to get up and running for me in 2003. I crashed it two weeks after he handed me the keys.
It wasn’t my second car. That was a Purple Honda Civic that I had painted this strange pearl orange color in 2004.
No, the Accord came in third, when my father decided he wanted to save on gas and swapped his V6 Accord with my (also his) orange Civic.
I don’t have any spectacular stories about this car, none that amount to be being any more special than any other vehicle I have owned. It did its job well, though, carrying me from my birthplace to my first professional job, my new job in another state, and the even my first date with TechnicolorMom.
In fact, in 2013, this car spent much of its drive time on I-65, either heading North to Nashville or South to Huntsville.
The most important thing about this car, however, was the thing it didn’t do.
The day it couldn’t carry me any further… when I was forced to make a life-changing decision that would alter the way I viewed myself and others around me forever.
The Day Before Thanksgiving – 2013
TechnicolorMom was going to have her family over to her house for Thanksgiving. This was a big deal for us. I was about to meet her parents for the first time! Wow! Excitement was in the air and I was beginning to feel anxious. As I started to drive north from Huntsville to Nashville, everything seemed fine.
As I was approaching the halfway mark, my oil light came on.
I got out to look under the car and saw a steady stream of oil hitting the ground. I was going to have to turn around. I hobbled the car back home, stopping at each exit and buying more oil to fill the draining engine. I remember I pulled into the garage at 4:50PM and thought about my options.
The logical solution to my problem was to cancel.
Yeah. I could skip meeting her parents, then get the car fixed over the weekend and pick up where we left off next week. I started thinking about my problem and how to make it easy for me.
Except, this time, my heart weighed heavy at the thought.
TechnicolorMom had worked hard to organize the Thanksgiving dinner with her family. They were coming all the way from their hometown to visit and I was the main reason for that effort. This wasn’t just about me. I realized I had to make it to Nashville… not for me, but for them.
I ran (my townhouse wasn’t far from the airport and car rentals) on foot to the local Enterprise to rent a car. When I arrived, I realized I didn’t have my license. At first the woman at the counter looked like she might turn me away, but when I explained my situation she suddenly lightened up, patted me on the back, and went out of her way to help me get sorted. Less than three hours after I noticed my draining oil, I was in a rental car and ready to get to Nashville.
I made it in time for Thanksgiving dinner and I got to meet her family.
Now, five years later, that family is my family too.
When I arrived at TechnicolorMom’s apartment later that evening, I had changed. A part of me had, for lack of a better term, grown up.
I went on to sell that Honda Accord a few weeks later. I was pretty sad to watch it drive off. I like to think it ended up with another young driver, looking for some excitement on the road and ready to learn some lessons about life.