After a decade-plus relationship, we've decided to part ways.
It wasn't because things weren't working. I just decided the time was right for something different. So I told my 1999 Toyota Corolla, 'It's not you, it's me.'
This was after the dear soul hung on for dear life to get me to the Toyota dealership. It was a white-knuckle final ride up the Maine Turnpike to Augusta. With my muffler and entire exhaust system being held up by a coat hanger, my gas tank running dangerously empty and tempting fate with any old part on that aging bucket of bolts just waiting to give way, I held my breath and patted the dashboard lovingly as I inched my way closer and closer to my Corolla's final destination.
Since then, I have a new love. A black beauty that is quite RAVishing. I traded in the Corolla for a more powerful Toyota cousin, the RAV4.
While I'm thrilled with the purchase and trying not to think about the debt I've just placed on my meager finances, I can't help but think fondly on those many years me and my Corolla spent together.
Right from the first day, that car taught me a lesson.
I went to Prime in Saco on a Saturday morning in the fall of 1998. I didn't really have the intention of buying a car that day. They happened to call my bluff and gave me a price I couldn't resist. I had perused the choice of cars and picked out a nice blue color on that cloudy day. Two days later, it was a bright sunny Monday and I discovered that the car I had bought wasn't blue but teal green. I made a mental note to never buy a car on a cloudy day.
I proved I learned my lesson this week. I test drove my RAV4 on a nice sunny day and bought the black SUV in the rain the following day.
I had over a decade of great memories with that Corolla. I kind of wish I could keep it around like an old abandoned row boat and make a planter of out, but as much as I loved that car, I didn't mind sending it on its way. I want to remember it in its prime.
It was a spunky a little number. It could be fun to drive. It had some zip. It was a fun little fling while it lasted, based on simple reliability, economy and fitting into the parameters of my life at that time.
The RAV4 feels more like a grown up car. It has just about everything except bells and whistles. I waited years to have a car with a CD player in it, but now I don't need one because I have a car with an IPod jack in it. It has 10 air bags (11 if you include me). I sit it in and hear the Pursuit of Happiness song "I'm an adult now" racing through my head. It has space for all the things my life needs to make space for - from people to all the stuff George Carlin often talked about. It has a seriousness about it - like serious power and acceleration with a V6 engine.
Still, it is difficult to move on from one you've loved and lost.
One of my favorite adventures with the Corolla was the day the town of Wiscasset made pieces of Maine history available to the public. The old schooners, the Hesper and Luther Little, had rested and rotted in the river for decades. They were icons for those that drove Route 1 on a regular basis. Time had taken its toll on them though. What hadn't broken apart and washed away was dredged up and dumped at the transfer station. Word was sent out that anyone interested in souvenirs of these two beloved vessels, could rummage through the debris on a particular fall morning.
There I was bright and early ready to load up that Corolla with ship debris. You wouldn't believe how many schooner pieces you can stuff into a Corolla. I have one bean that was a good foot thick and about one Corolla in length. I barely fit across my backseat. I swear the Corolla sucked in its gut and held its breath as I slammed the backseat doors. I piled smaller pieces on top of it and loaded up the trunk. I dreamed of what I could have done had I had a truck, but the Corolla gave me every inch of space it could.
My plan was to put these pieces on display at our cottage in Owls Head. But I couldn't deliver them directly that day. I had to cover a playoff soccer game in Auburn that afternoon. After that game went to penalty kicks, I raced down to Portland to cover a Pirates hockey game. It wasn't until about 11 p.m. that I headed for Owls Head.
By the time I arrived, I didn't feel like emptying my car of the Hesper and Luther Little. So those pieces of maritime antiques sat in my car overnight. The next day, they were proudly put on display while the Corolla wreaked of an old ship for a couple weeks.
That day is one of the great memories I have of my Corolla. There were many more miles and many more adventures I had with that car. It served me well for a good many years.
I'll feel bad that I've left that Corolla for another love. But time moves on. Life changes. Some things don't last forever, especially if its rusts in Maine weather.
There's a new excitement to this new relationship. It offers me so much more than the Corolla ever could. I hope this new relationship endures as well as the previous one did and the adventures we share are equally memorable.
While the Corolla is likely headed for a scrap heap somewhere, I still have its key, a lot of great memories and a great appreciation for the reliability and dedication it showed me for so many years.
And if that isn't enough to keep me smiling, my RAV4 goes really, really fast !!!