I graduated high school in 2004. It was a pretty good year, finishing high school and on to the new and more exciting life of college. My parents were super excited for me and so proud at how well I had done in high school. I was 17 years old and I drove a Chevrolet Cavalier that I'd gotten for my 16th birthday. I'd always been obsessed with Mustangs though, and I wanted one so bad. So, so bad. Specifically an older model - a 67 Convertible, red with a white or cream top. Ooooooooh baby.
So, my dad made me this little deal. He told me if I got a free ride to college, he'd buy me my car. He however did not want me to be driving an older one no matter how refurbished because he felt they were lacking in the safety features of newer vehicles. So, the agreement was a free ride to college would lead to a brand new Mustang. Who can argue with that?
I busted my butt on scholarship applications all of senior year. I didn't want student loans. No amount offered was too small and no essay requirement too long. If I met the criteria, I was applying.
I ended up with a full ride to college and so dad (and mom too, of course), holding up on his end of the bargain, took me to the Ford dealership and home we went with my new car.
I named her Dorothy (Dodo for short haha) because she was ruby red like the slippers. She had a tan top, leather interior. V8 engine and manual transmission. She was lovely. Of course I drove her everywhere, she was my car (and we'd traded the Cav in).
In 2008 upon graduating from college, I started working at the Army post near my parents' house. On and off post Dodo and I would go every day. We'd go to the PX on lunch, and one fateful weekend in August, we went to the bowling alley.
That weekend, we came across a gorgeous Marine. A group of silly Marines actually, but one in particular that would change my life. After the bowling alley closed, the Marines and I were headed to the rec center a few streets over to keep hanging out. One silly Marine walked me to my car and I offered him a ride. Two more silly Marines jumped in the back because the top was down. I had to tell them to get off the back and put their seatbelts on I was not getting a ticket on post! My Marine gave the other 2 a dirty look, he wanted to be with me by himself. I drove us over to the rec center. The other guys went ahead and me and mine hung back. As we started walking over, the other guys called up and said we couldn't go in, the Marines had to return to the barracks. My Marine asked if he could kiss me. We stood there next to Dorothy and the most magical kiss I've ever experienced happened. I drove her home that night. It wouldn't be the last time I drove on post to hang out with Jonny.
The guys didn't have cars since they were still in training, so I'd go pick them up when we wanted to do stuff off post. Usually in Dorothy, sometimes in one of my parents cars if there were too many hanging out that night. We would pile in and head to whatever we were up to. I'll tell you what, a Mustang full of Marines sure shows it's weight, poor Dorothy would seem to jump up in relief once everyone climbed out!
That car was with me when I met my sweetie and she was our main transportation in the early days of our relationship. Maybe TMI, but chances are high that our beautiful daughter was created on the smooth cream leather of that pretty Mustang...
Months came and went and Dorothy and I drove down to North Carolina. She had a new friend, a nameless Toyota truck, but she was still my baby and my main mode of transportation. The truck was Jonny's.
Then Ariana came. The carseat barely fit in the back and I just wasn't comfortable with my precious cargo in the back of a 2 door car with a cloth top. As much as I loved my beautiful convertible, I loved my baby's safety more. Jonny and I talked of trading in the Mustang for a more family friendly car like a small SUV or crossover. Jonny said a new Camaro would be a nice surprise for him when he came home (trade my baby for a Camaro?! HA)! I started looking at different options but it was just so hard to part with that car, the truck now became my number one transport and was super handy with all the extra room (I wouldn't even dare try to fit a stroller in the Mustang...). I figured we'd figure out the second car situation when a second car was necessary.
Then Jonny died. There were so many memories in that Mustang, so many with him, how could I let it go? I could look at that car and remember different times we went out, different things we did. He loved that car, I retaught him how to drive stick in that car (he'd learned once before but was rusty so he relearned). We did sooo much in that car. If I let her go, even though I had really stopped using her, would I lose those memories too? She just sat, she'd get taken out every so often when it was just me doing something. The tires always needed air and more often than not she'd need a jump, but at least I could see her, at least she was there with her memories.
I had her shipped up to Maryland when we moved and she's sat. I think I've driven her maybe twice since we got here. So today, I did it. I finally parted with my car (ah, finally we've reached the point of this long story personifying a car!)
I sold my Dorothy today. The dealership was happy to take her. And guess what? The memories are still there! Nothing left with her, except the insurance to keep tags on and the space being taken up in the garage and the idea that maybe I'll drive the Mustang today.
It was a big step. I know it sounds stupid. It's just a car, it's just a material object. But I've said before, I hold on to these material objects like they might bring me a piece of him. The truth is, I don't have to feel the leather or hold the steering wheel to remember. All I have to do is close my eyes and think. I feel almost as if a small weight has been lifted. Moving forward doesn't mean letting your loved one go, sometimes you have to let go of some things, but it doesn't mean you'll let go of the memories or the feelings.
And maybe now, she will provide her new owner as much joy and as many awesome memories as she did for us. Maybe she'll belong to another headed-to-college kid, or maybe someone going through a midlife crisis. Maybe a Mustang aficionado or someone who goes to the track. Maybe a mom who wants a "me" car or a 20s something guy who wants to pick up chicks. Who knows, I just hope they treat her right, she sure is a great car (haha gosh I sound like I got rid of a pet or something).
So Dodo, it was a great eight years. Thank you for being such a sweet ride!