Dearest Ford Escape,
My parents traded you in the other day. They texted me a picture, the last farewell shot before you were gone. You were rusted over and under and had seen better days. My days. You have not been my car for many years, I have since moved away from home, gotten married and had children. I have moved on from that first-car-young-driver time of life. You were driven by my siblings after me. You were not only my first car, you were my sister’s first car. She drove you to high school and college and now she is on the one taking her wallet and sunglasses out of your cup holder for the last time, while I am far away in another place and in another season of life. You were well loved by my family members and carted them around safely for many years after I moved on.
But you were my first car first.
You were the car I drove to my first summer job, you were the car I drove during my high school and early college years. You took me to my sports events and I carted my younger siblings around in you. You helped me secure my first speeding ticket and my first fender bender. I called you by your pet name Es-cap-è taken from that Finding Nemo movie. You were the car that I spent my summers in as a horse trail guide and those summers are what I remember most about being with you.
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During those summers with you, I met new friends and fellow coworkers. Friends who piled into your trunk and plopped down on your leather seats as you carted us up and down the back country roads. Friends who sat on the edges of your opened sunroof with their feet dangling to the dashboard and their hair loose in the warm wind. Our sun-tanned elbows resting on your window sills as summer tunes swirled through your interior and out into the breeze. We filled you with leather saddles, muddy boots and cold cans of cherry coke.
We took you off-roading through creeks and into the woodsy horse trails where we used your roof as a ladder to trim the overgrown leafy branches. You were our mobile “sheepdog” rounding up the horse herd in the cool of the morning, dew and mud mixing on your tires. You sped with us through fresh puddles, water splashing up onto your windows. You were there for the bonfires, the coffee runs, the long, sweaty days, the unpredictable trail rides, the wild horse accidents, the firefly filled nights. You were even in the video skit we filmed one summer, forever captured on camera in your younger, robust days.
Through your opened top, I would watch the stars glide overhead as we rolled slowly along the dark dusty road, drinking in the quiet of a country twilight. You watched me growing up under your roof, falling in love for the first time, primping in your rear view mirror to impress a boy. You chauffeured us on our first date and you were the only witness when I said a tearful goodbye to my first and last sweetheart at the end of summer. You were my pillar to lean on as I watched him walk away into the tree shadows and firelight, not to be seen again until you helped me welcome him back the following year.
You were at my side in the moments I had to say goodbye again and again to that same boy as each summer visit ended. You were there with a leather hug through the times of sad moments. My steady companion through the school days, carrying me safely on the slippery winter roads, as I waited in anticipation for the next summer to have more “4 x 4” adventures with you, dirtying your leather with dust and horse hair once again.
You were there, my Es-cap-è, through all my teenage ups and downs, my dreams and thoughts filled your space, my hopes and prayers drifted out of your sliding sunroof. I packed the contents of my life into your trunk and you transported me across the country; so I could be nearer to that same boy who stole my heart under the summer stars shining through your open roof. You spent a whole year with me in “The Good Life” and then I drove you back home, for one more glorious summer, this time with a diamond ring sparkling against the steering wheel.
You passed on to the next sibling in line and after that I only saw you in passing, driving you now and then for old time’s sake, but never again calling you mine and now, years later, after you have fulfilled your place in my family’s story, you are gone. With you goes a piece of me, the memories of my youth, all those carefree, nostalgic days that are now but a dream of the past. In the rear-view mirror, I watch that season of life move further and further behind me as I speed ahead into adulthood.
The lively horse wrangling, the thrilling summer adventures, the fascination of teenage freedom, the spontaneous fun times, and the infatuation of young love all go with you, my first car, leaving behind just a faint track of hazy, golden memories.
Thanks for those memories Es-cap-è. Thanks for the ride.