Every vehicle I’ve owned, except one, has been anthropomorphized. My first boxy four-door was a girl, but three of the next four that followed were boys. In the middle I even owned one that preferred to be gender neutral and so remained unnamed to avoid an incorrect tag for the duration of my ownership. Each one took me on adventures: one went with me to Europe, another saw me through my divorce and my first true single life, one took me to the west coast, a couple of them traveled through Canada, and with the exception of the first, I picked out every one and negotiated the purchases myself. I learned to drive on one, and learned how to maneuver a stick shift on another; I taught my son to drive on a third. Each of these vehicles, during their duration within my ownership, could be considered my most expensive and valuable possession, that is, until the next vehicle purchase. They were also my friends who took me anywhere I wanted to go.
I knew 2006 was the year I would get a new car. Son #1 was about to turn sixteen and five years earlier when I bought Powell, a used automatic after two manual transmissions. Powell understood he eventually would be my son’s first car when he acquired his driver’s license. Much like my first car was a hand-me-down, my son’s first car gave us a full, long life. We first met him in Tampa, and he left us in Daytona, and every mile in between, whether on I-4 or some other road, helped us get through each day, no matter how adventurous or mundane. Being an automatic, he adapted perfectly to a new driver after serving me for five years until our next upgrade, Delano, joined our family. Delano had five forward gears and a clutch on the floor. He was all mine.
Our Last Morning
As I sit here now, looking at Delano as the sun rises on our last morning together, I’m not at all surprised that our journey together reaches 262,544 miles, almost every one of which I personally added. Every one of those miles brought adventures of various sizes and degrees of difficulty. Even when he only took me back and forth to work, he was my means of escape when the days became tedious. There were days when I was forced to muster more strength than I ever knew I possessed and he encased me, protected me, and literally propelled me forward and onward (see Delano from January 2020). The guilt I feel in saying, “Goodbye,” is overwhelming, but he doesn’t mind. After all, he’s an inanimate object. But he’s MY inanimate object.
This first time – in fact, every time – I have been camping Delano stood by my side. He kept me dry at Straits State Park and Lake De Smet. He provided security in the DeSoto National Forest and at the Canadian border (see They Closed Canada from February 2020). He was the only vehicle at Tongue River Reservoir State Park and at Sage Creek. I never really camped alone, since we were always together. How fitting that our last night together is under the stars in a state park with our tent popped, together. In a couple hours I will say goodbye to Delano forever, and when I see him for sale on the dealership’s website, I’ll remind myself that he doesn’t miss me the way I miss him, and that he soon will share his spirit of adventure with someone new.