The past is where we keep what might have been

Burying a loved one is tough enough.

But sending them off to be mangled, crushed and shaped into a cube ¼ their original size once they die is unthinkable.

Right?

Please say it ain’t so – that’s exactly what I am doing with the only lady I’ve loved for four years straight … so long, Lumina.

Tonight as I went through my beloved 1997 Chevrolet Lumina, scouring the cracks, console and pockets behind the seats for my personal effects, I began to realize there was one personal item that couldn’t be salvaged from the black lady I drove through a steady red light and wrecked 46 days ago: all the memories.

I think of the trips onto campus at UNCW – parking at Hardee’s because I was too cheap to by a pass to do so on school grounds. I remember the days she carried me 200 miles per day into New Bern from Wilmington for my first job after college, before I could get out of my Wilmington apartment lease. The days when I’d shine her up just because I like making old cars look new, taking her to Olean, N.Y., and back so I could be with a friend who’d just lost his grandfather, and the nights she took me home from the bar when, well, she probably shouldn’t have.

I also recall the first time I loaded Kalista’s car seat in the back – and how nervous I was I would wreck.

“The Lumina!” Kalista would grow to proudly say, because I’d taught her to love that car.

I’ll never forget the sight of her in the sleeping next to the rear, passenger-side door during a nighttime trip … the way the dome light shone vibrantly on her cheek. Her eyes were like shadows …

But all good things must come to an end. Much as I hate to admit it, the old girl had a ton of miles on her and it was matter of time before she started costing more money than I care to pay. The check engine light flashed on tonight when I had her running tonight – a sign that this is for the best?

Tough to say right now. I’m far too sentimental at the moment.

I know, I know, my heart will go on and I will make memories with my new car. It was just like yesterday when I went through the same thing with the Celica – it was the car that brought me to Wilmington, and did 1,000 other things in before that.

I was crushed the night my friend took me down to the junkyard, where a tow truck had taken her transmission-less body from a Wilmington roadside, to get my things out of it. I got over the Celica and purchased the Lumina … and we all know what kind of love affair that turned out to be.

I said these things to myself as I took off the license plate. This time is simply – blatently – different. It’s wishful thinking to consider I might love my next car as much as the ones before it. My days of exploring are over. I have no more adventures to make with another vehicle.

No new memories to cherish. At least, not memories like before.

So long, Lumina … I’m going to miss you.

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