Letting Go of Lexi

I remember the day I got my first car like it was yesterday. My sister dropped it off at a mechanic in Kennesaw to have it tuned up and cleaned before she passed it down to me. My mom and I met her at the auto shop that spring evening. I was at the same time incredibly excited and terrified of driving back through Atlanta traffic. My sister laughed a little bit as she gave me the keys.

“Hopefully this will last you at least a few months, Abigail. I know it’s not much, but I’m happy that I can pass it down to you.”

The mechanic showed me a few things before I took off as well. He left me with a warning, saying, “I would really be careful. I wouldn’t take the car too far or too fast. You have to be easy on old cars like this.” I listened to them both, but when I buckled the seat belt and turned the key, I couldn’t believe that this car could be anything but perfect. The odometer read about 250,000 miles, the leather on the steering wheel was chipping off, and there was a tear in the leather seats, but this 1994 Lexus sedan was mine. Before shifting into reverse I whispered to my new car, “I don’t care what they say about you. You are a great car.”

Well, the car that they said may only last another 3 months has lasted 3 years now. Of course, something on her breaks about once a month. It started with the antenna, causing the radio to not really work since 2012. Next to go was the cassette player, so listening to music through the car speakers (which were half way blown out) was no longer an option. In lieu of functioning car speakers, I started rocking the battery powered ihome nestled in the center console. The passenger door stopped opening from the outside when I skidded against the guardrail on 64. The day that I turned the air conditioner on and it smelled like feet was not one of my better days as a car owner. Despite her obvious quirks, Lexi and I went many wonderful miles together.

Looking back over the last 3 years, some of my most special memories were made in that car. In the last few years, I have spent countless hours, parked in the driveway, talking on the phone with my friends. I’ve gotten lost SO many times in Lexi. Not only have I gotten lost, I’ve gotten BADLY lost- the kind of lost where you hope your car doesn’t break down any time soon because you will probably get kidnapped lost. I got pulled over…. more than once. It was my car that I packed up the day I left for college. I will never  forget that feeling. My friends at school LOVE Lexi. We have spent many, many nights just sitting in my car and talking for hours. Freshman year, my friends slept in my car when they realized that camping means sleeping on the ground. Lexi even increased my belief in the power of prayer, because many times that’s what it took to get her to start. My 1994 Lexus sedan was my wonderful, awful first car. Having that car helped me not to care what people think of me, because honestly you start to appreciate the look on peoples’ faces when you tell them your car has 285,000 miles on it. My car was just that- mine. That’s why, when I passed it down to my brother today, for good, tears were streaming down my face.

Yesterday, I cleaned every stray hair ties and bobby pin off of the floor board. I detached my air freshener from the vent, but I left the battery powered ihome- I don’t really need it now. I took her for one last ride. I cried so hard- like full on shoulder rocking, gasping for air, sobs. When I passed the keys over to Joel, I felt like I was passing a piece of my childhood. The thing is, I kind of was. Now I am driving a much safer, newer, and more reliable car, that I’m sure I will learn to love soon.

Today, Joel left in the lexus for an internship in Atlanta. I hope that old car does for Joel what it did for me. I hope that he does what I always wanted to do: take her to the big 300,000. I hope that Joel makes a lot of beautiful memories in the drivers seat. My wish is that Joel discovers the endless adventures there are to find on those four wheels; the legacy that the car has brought to the Hewins kids.