Tuesday, July 10, 2007

It's So Hard to Say Goodbye

They say that it's better to have loved and lost to have never loved at all. They also say that if you love something, let it go.
I'm not sure who "they" are exactly, but I'm pretty certain they don't know what the hell they're talking about.

I'm not ready to let go. "It's time," my friends say, but I know better. Every week I find myself pushing him just a little further. At almost 10 years old, I know I'm lucky for the times we HAVE had. The part that makes it most hard is that he doesn't LOOK old. But I can't deny the fact that we probably only have a few months together. But still, I can't fathom the thought of having only rapidly-fading memories of our ups and downs, mishaps and adventures to look back upon. Just being near him evokes images years past. Trips to the mailbox, impromptu trips to faraway cities for alleged home-invasion purposes, exploring the German landscape as we narrowly skirt disaster. Sigh. I feel like it's too soon. But after yesterday, I know that time isn't on my side, and death is imminent.

It's time to put the Protege to rest. It's time to say goodbye to my first car.

I thought I knew all the tricks of the trade, but despite all my efforts, I fear the end is near. In anticipation, Woodstock and I got a new car. An SUV, something a little snazzy, but a lot practical as we consider expanding our family (Don't ask. That's another post altogether). But still I drove the the Protege. "You're still driving that car?" friends ask. "I can't believe you have a new car," others remarked. And yet, I persisted. Why not drive it, I thought. It was 3/4 full of gas, and those who know me know that one of my favorite quotes is, "And you know gas high." I also thought I'd successfully planned in the event the car did break down. I would be driving down some main street (in my mind, it's always Franz-Schubert-Strasse, the street the MP station is on) and the car would turn off, allowing me to glide gracefully onto the little car-sized opening in the sidewalk. Besides, like I said, I'd gotten used to the Protege's little quirks, and thought I'd found ways to work around them all.

First was the burning smell, which I realized only happened when I used the air conditioner. Easy enough - keep the windows open. Then came the periods, like 2 weeks ago, where the car's idling would go so low it would turn off. Four times. On the way to work. But ah ha! I don't owe a year's salary in student loans (not my salary of course) to not be able to figure that one out. The car only turned off when it was idling in neutral. Again, problem solved. Simply downshift quickly and I'd make it to work with maybe only one turn-off. Anyway, the car starts back up pretty fast, so that's no big deal right?

But today - today I fear is the end of a long line of problems that may finally cause me to retire the car. As I was leaving the PX, the car made a squealing sound. Now, I'm used to that. I needed a belt replaced last year and it squealed all the time. Usually at 5 a.m. Anyway, I digress. It was a little embarrassing, but I ignored the little boy holding his ears (I'm sure it wasn't THAT loud) and headed home. After the squealing stopped, I breathed a sigh of relief. Good to go. I thought there was a smell - but I attributed it to the construction going on. That's when it happened. I heard a pop. And I couldn't turn the steering wheel. I thought to back up and park, but I was stuck between a myriad of poles, arranged so that a terrorist - or someone who stole a TV from the PX - couldn't leave quickly. There was no way I'd be able to manuever the car backward.

I soon realized the popping sound I heard was the power steering pump. I made it home and parked, with some difficulty, before switching cars for church.

I know it's just a car, but remember, I've had the car since I was but a lowly freshman. It got me through life in four cities and 2 countries. When Woodstock and I first started dating, the car cemented our relationship when the Eclipse was out of commission. It's been a place for private meetings, pre parties, post parties and late-night trysts (with Woodstock of course). This car knows more about me than my best friends, and I'm asked to simply throw it away. Or in my case pay $45 to let the Army "throw it away," which means they'll reap my poor car's parts and sell them for profit.

Now that I've explained myself, perhaps it's a little more understandable why I feel the way I feel about getting rid of my car. But at the same time, I realize I do have a problem. As I retold the story of the power steering pump, a thought came to mind.

I can still DRIVE the car - I just can't pull into any tight parking spots.



woodstock said...

Just so you understand my position, that power steering pump can be fixed. If my humvee is still running after everything it's been through, the Protege can make it. Four more years, four more years...

No Limit said...

The Protege is like one of those long-living Chinese men (if you think this is racist, talk to me about the kung fu movies I used to watch) - just when you think it's down for the count, it shows up to save the day. I don't know if it can last 4 more years, but if Master can survive a beatdown by the entire opposing clan, the Protege can survive a little while longer.