I mentioned that recently I made this deal where my next door neighbor’s son would take care of my yard for the rest of the season, and in return, I would give him the Camaro. It’s been sitting in my driveway since November 16th of last year, and during that time I’ve had ample opportunity to say goodbye to it.
At first, I just couldn’t bear to part with it. I so, so did not want it to die. Never mind the emergency other-car purchase. Then I so, so did not want to part with it anyway. There was something comforting about seeing it in the driveway every morning when I left for work, and seeing it still be there in the driveway when I came home in the evening. Good dog.
But at last it became annoying. You know, I said to it, if it weren’t for you, I could park the new baby Toyota in the spot closest to the door, and you are in my way. So I bartered it away. But it stayed in the driveway until yesterday.
I really am not one to put a whole lot of emotional investment into material things, especially cars. The Camaro never had a name, and I didn’t talk to it (with that one exception when I said it was in my way). On the other hand, I spent fourteen-plus years in its company, and it was a sort of companion, in its own inanimate way.
So it wasn’t the car…it was the fourteen years I spent with it. A lot can happen in fourteen years.
I bought it brand-new in 1995, when I was living in New Orleans and my existing, love-of-my-life, two year-old car drowned in the May 9th flood. I bought it because I saw an ad on TV for it and I liked the way it looked, plus it was only $15,995. (Which I later learned must have been minus the optional engine.) My friend Lebron said, Please don’t buy a Camaro. Only rednecks drive them. Well, I thought…well…perhaps the shoe fits. But really, that was the year they changed the body style and it was a lot sleeker-looking and less Dukes of Hazard-looking.
I drove the Camaro to Iowa a year later, with a dog and two cats and some houseplants packed into it. Two years after that, I moved to Norfolk, Virginia. This time the Camaro was loaded onto a moving van, under my watchful and hysterical eye. I flew to Norfolk and drove a rented car for a bit. Ah. Those were the good old days, when the company I worked for would pay to ship my car, pay for a rental car, pay for me to live in a hotel for 3 weeks, and break the written company policy by paying for my dog and two cats to board for 3 weeks, then fly them to Norfolk. That was when they thought I was a wizard. Now I operate under the “What Have You Done For Me Lately” rule.
In Norfolk, I acquired another dog, and the Camaro faithfully ferried us back and forth from his obedience training classes…over the river and through the trees, or in the case of Norfolk, over the bridges and through the tunnels. The dog and I both pretty much sucked at obedience training, but the Camaro was steadfast.
A year later, things were seriously going south in my job, so I surreptiously got another one and shipped my original dog and two cats to Fort Lauderdale on my own dime. Then I followed in the Camaro with the Norfolk dog. Try driving 1,000 miles or so with a Rottweiler in a Camaro. It gets a little crowded. At the time, the Rottweiler had just entered adolescence, and was just discovering the pleasures of being protective. We stopped overnight at a hotel room somewhere in South Carolina, and he spent much of his time standing on the bed, barking at the “other” Rottweiler in the mirror over the dresser.
Then we all moved to Tallahassee. I, of course, had to take charge of the Rottweiler and the Camaro, while the other dog and the two cats rode in the U-Haul with my perfect angel of a friend Lebron, who helped me move on Thanksgiving weekend, at great risk to his Significant-Other relationship.
Tom, the guy who took the car, warned me yesterday that he was probably taking the car that day, but when it happened, I didn’t even know it. It was very busy and noisy outside at the time. Tom was doing yard stuff out front, and his truck was parked in the street. Across the street, Randy was mowing the neighbor’s lawn on his riding mower, and his truck was parked on the street in front of her house. I know it seems impossible to believe that I missed it, but I did.
Once everyone left, I went outside to inspect…and the Camaro was gone. And in spite of myself, I literally felt a pang of sadness. I’m actually glad I didn’t see it go.
Both the dogs and both the cats who spent time in the Camaro are now dead, as was the Camaro. The difference is, the Camaro may possibly be brought back to life. So you see, it isn’t the physical object, the car itself, it’s the history. Losing it was just one of those reminders that I’m getting old. Time cannot be reversed, and neither the dogs or the cats or myself can be revived with a new engine.