Sunday, February 19, 2017

My Rental Car Road Trip, and the Little Car-Shaped Void it Left Behind

Incoming: weird, sad post about a car. You've been warned.

Yesterday, I met this little creature when I rented a car from Enterprise. It was a chance meeting, because the car I was supposed to rent was covered in mud and still needed to be cleaned. This one just happened to have been fresh from the car wash at the back of the building. It was shiny and happy and ready for adventure.

It was smaller than anything I’d ever driven, and it displayed gas consumption in pellets. We started in Muncie, idled in the Starbuck’s drive-thru in Greenfield for twenty minutes for an iced chai tea latte and only used one pellet. We went to Nashville Indiana and the Bloomington area and back on six more pellets of gas.

We saw the lights of Nashville, the live music, the dark and secret magic of Antique Alley after all the shops had closed. I looked up at the sky above me and I was happy.

Highway 46 was dark on the way home, surrounded by wooded hills. I-65 was a bright red and white ribbon of vehicles, and after seeing an accident, we decided to go back to state highways. I found myself sitting in my living room wondering if I had enough time to go for a quick drive before bedtime. Angela 5.0 and her new companion looked like old friends in the driveway.

Today, I woke up early and we went for another drive in the country. Soon, it was almost time for my little friend to go back to Enterprise. We had been on so many adventures in less than 24 hours, and I was irrationally sad about taking it back. It had been an emotional 24 hours. I had been driving this car when I stopped at Colonial Crest and got to see my apartment. I had been driving this car when I went to Brown County for the first time. I had been driving this car when I went on my first road trip by myself with no particular destination in mind and no one to visit.

So I turned in the keys and stood at the counter dead-faced and responded to all human interactions like I wasn’t sick from grief, because normal people do not get emotional about inanimate objects, but not before I took one last picture.

Goodbye, my little friend. I wanted to keep you forever. I learned a lot from you. You taught me that I really like small cars, after almost a decade of never giving one a chance. I had no trouble turning in the Focus, as nice as it was. I had no trouble turning in the Caravan either, because as much as it reminded me of my own van, because I still had my van. But you, I don’t have anything to fill the fun-sized void you left. When Angela 5.0 is paid off, I might go to Enterprise Car Sales and look for one of your friends. I will look for a silver Nissan Versa, and maybe it will be you. I’ll never know, but it doesn’t matter. Maybe you can be the replacement for the van, a tiny little creature, a baby Altima that eats gas pellets. I hope when you retire, you find your forever home. Maybe we’ll meet again on the rental lot. I’ll look for those distinctive black marks on your driver’s door. Until then, I am glad to have known you, and I will always remember you.

I really scaled this blog down to not sound crazy, but there's only so much you can to look sane when you get attached to a car. After a while, you just have to admit you're nuts.