This is Petal. She is our much beloved car, but she is also getting a bit long in the tooth.
Her aches and pains are many–due to a leaky air conditioner, and assorted other wounds, we are facing a $2000 car repair.
So this week, the question that has been whispered often in the Lotulelei home is: “Do we keep her, or trade her in?”
This is one of those decisions that make me feel like a baby-adult. I just don’t know. I can see pros and cons to both decisions.
The Story of Petal
Petal has been good to me over the last seven years. I didn’t want her at first, I wanted a bright yellow car that would set me apart from the teeming masses of college students I was soon to join. But budgetary concerns, and the fact that Petal was a good, solid choice from our trusted auto dealer, made me decide to choose her. The only problem? She was white: the most odious of colors. White wasn’t even a color, it was a lack of a color, and my artistic, determination to be set-apart couldn’t allow that. So the day I brought her home, I marched out to the driveway, and plastered flower stickers all over her that I had bought off of Ebay.
Petal and I had some good times. We always made people laugh, and wave. My brother gave me some eyelashes for Petal, that fluttered in the wind, and that only added to her appeal. When I drove by school children, little girls would squeal with delight, when I sat at lights older women would mouth “I love your flowers!” to me, which I would acknowledge with a wave. My brothers were chagrined to borrow Petal, which of course, as mischievous little sister added to the appeal.
But Petal was more than her pretty looks, she was there for all my major life changes: I packed her full of all my college stuff, and drove her, as a scared nineteen-year-old, to my first semester at college. Then, a semester later, eyes streaked with tears–I drove her home, as far away from college as I could get. She touted me to and fro from working my mind-numbing job at the grocery store in the year I took off from college, took me to my job as an Electrician’s apprentice throughout the summer, and took me to a new college. She was there, when in the middle of the night, I packed up all my things from the new college, and she didn’t bat an eyelash, when I drove the four hours back to the old college (that I had fled as a freshman) where I would become ensconced in classes, meet my future husband within weeks, and thrive. But, of course, neither of us knew that then.
She took Saia and I on our first date. He folded his muscular, wrestler frame into the white, flowered car. Unaware of the fact that this would be the first of hundreds of trips he would take in Petal, as he transitioned from date to boyfriend to fiance to husband.
She took me to all his wrestling tournaments: guided only by Google maps, and a woman’s intuition.
It was in Petal that I drove to all my college performances. I would fill her with my stage makeup, costume, script, and we would tool our way to the theater to prepare before the show.
It was in Petal that I admired my new engagement ring, watching it sparkle on the steering wheel as I drived. No doubt endangering the lives of all the drivers around me as I was wrapped up in its newness and sparkle.
She agreed with me, to remove her flowers when we added a boy (my hubby) to our family. She endured the hair dryer and wd-40 as I peeled off all her flowers. And she welcomed my husband on our adventure, with grace.
She was the car that I got into as a Miller, as I drove her, stuffed with wedding stuff, to my very own wedding. And she was the car that my brothers decorated during the reception, and that Saia and I took on our honeymoon.
She drove me to my last day of classes at college, and waited as I looked around campus and took a big breath of satisfaction, exhaustion, and happiness.
She was the car we jumped into, on that Saturday in December, to drive to the Italian restaurant to celebrate the fact that Baby Lotulelei was on the way. She listened to us excitedly dream about our future, and seemed to have an extra hop in her step as she delivered us–Saia, baby and I–at our destination.
She took me to my first midwife appointment, and was there when I cried all the way home from our first ultrasound.
She has taken me to Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Kansas, Iowa, and all over Nebraska. She has heard me laugh, seen me cry, and been a solid companion throughout all the ups and downs of the past seven years.
I want her to be the car that my baby first rides in, but she is starting to show her age: two of her doors have trouble opening these days, the glove compartment is permanently stuck closed, one of her headlights is taped after an encounter with a deer in Wyoming, her brakes are complaining, air conditioning is gone, and the sober-faced guy at the car repair shop hands us a list of grievances as long as my forearm every time we drop her off. The latest list of repairs costs close to two grand.
How do you know when it is time to say goodbye to an old friend? We have a trip to Colorado coming up in a few weeks, and I am torn–do we chance it with Petal, do we rent an expensive stand-in for Petal, or do we quickly trade her in and find a new adventure-partner for the coming years?