The end of an era

A few months ago, we bought a truck. Somehow—and I still believe with all my heart that this was because someone, somewhere wasn’t paying attention or doing their job—we walked into a dealership on a weekday afternoon and drove away in a brand-new Toyota Tacoma. 

Buying the truck wasn’t bittersweet. It was just exciting. Suddenly, a trailhead being accessible via 4WD road was no problem. We (i.e. Bix, with my backseat driving, PUN INTENDED) built a platform in the back, which I outfitted with some memory foam dressed up to look like a mattress and a cheap comforter. There are southwestern-patterned curtains. It’s no #vanlife, but there’s room for our stuff under the bed, and it’s the ultimate sleep setup, as far as we’re concerned.

It also wasn’t bittersweet because it took us two months to sell our old blue Forester, which Bix bought before he knew me (and lived out of when I met him) and which we drove to and from Alaska together. We poured thousands of dollars of maintenance into it for expensive-sounding things like head gaskets and timing belts. We paid it off last year, right around the time it hit 180,000 miles, both of which felt huge.

In its dotage, though, the Bluebaru became more of an around-town car. It overheated and needed to pull off when we drove up mountain passes; it grumbled for days when we took it on even nicely-graded dirt roads. Its A/C, always something of a gamble to begin with, crapped out altogether. Mostly, it wanted to run errands and sit next to our duplex with the windows down to cut down on the smell.

After two trips on the uber-remote Cassiar Highway, a dozen Wisconsin-to-Colorado (and vice versa) drives, and countless forays to trailheads around the Inter-mountain West, it was time to put this old car out to pasture.

But this isn’t Alaska, and we don’t have the room to let the old Forester spend its final years as a pasture ornament, used only for parts and to prop up a handwritten “No Trespassing” sign. We had to sell it.

I didn’t help much with this because I am sentimental and also because I believe that if I ignore things that make me sad or uncomfortable, they will go away. This was, once again, proven not to be the case when Bix texted me on Monday afternoon. “Guess how much cash I’m holding,” he said.

I made him promise to hold his ground if he ran into any traveling salesmen on the way home—this is a man who would absolutely walk in the door and cheerfully present me with a handful of magic beans in lieu of several thousand dollars. (Bix has oh-so-many fine qualities, but it is fair to say that it’s not his money management that got us a loan for the truck. Look, for once, I am the sensible one!)

And then, to my own great surprise, I got just the teeniest bit weepy. The old Forester, of course, was an inanimate object, but I couldn’t help feeling a little sorry for not having said goodbye to it. (“Thanks for the memories, Old Friend,” I would have murmured, placing a hand on its slightly chipped exterior and letting a single tear fall on its cracked windshield.)

I know I’m not the only one who gets attached to cars. That’s what the whole Subaru ad campaign was based on—that people never forget their first Subarus—and I am a sucker for a sappy commercial. I am a sappy commercial.

But life goes on, and things come full-circle. With the money Bix managed not to spend on inordinate numbers of rare books or fine cheeses on his way home, we will pay off the credit card we had to run up to fix the Forester last winter. And then, we will fill up the tank of our new Tacoma (yes, Dad, the cab is already full of dog hair; some things just don’t change overnight), and point it toward the mountains, where it will not overheat. Onward!


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