they had barely said hello
and it was time to say goodbye
— the prophet ani difranco
And just like that, it was over.
After 30 years, 245,000 miles and half of my life, we said goodbye.
It had become an endless exercise in futility, $500 here, $1,000 there. The cracked windshield was the last straw. Because of the rust, the body shop guy said it was almost impossible to replace, and prohibitively expensive. “It’s time,” said the guy who could have said yes and made a lot of money off me. With 7,000 bucks already invested recently and no end in sight to a long list of needed fixes, we reluctantly pulled the plug on life support.
I drove him to the SCC track for the millionth and last time, a fitting finale for the two of us. We parked in the usual spot and he waited patiently for me, with no idea of the fate that awaited. The next day, we drove to the car place. I left him there, the clear winner of my imaginary “Oldest Honda in the Lot” contest.
I patted him on the hood, wiped away a tear, and that was that.
I got my first Honda in 1978. Rick dubbed him Hondo, an homage to the mayor of Luckenbach. The little orange Civic died shortly after making the heroic trek from Austin to Phoenix, getting me to my new home with his dying gasp. He was replaced by this car in 1988. And now, the 2018 model takes over. The eighth year of decades seems to be my sweet spot for cars.
So now I have a new Honda. It has stuff like a “radio” and a “rear view mirror” and “cruise control” and “brakes” and other fancy accessories. It doesn’t leave a billowing cloud of white smoke when I pull away from a red light. It doesn’t require a screwdriver to pry open the gas cap cover. You can see out of the windshield. Technology has changed a bit in three decades. What’s an “airbag”?
But the new car wasn’t there when Mo said “I like your bike rack. It makes the car look less ugly.” Or the time we were on a little dirt road in the Four Peaks wilderness when the timing belt decided to snap. It wasn’t with me on the Dreamboat Annie Redux Tour when the brakes chose to disappear at the start of the screaming hairpin descent from the top of the Chisos Basin in Big Bend, sending my foot to the floorboard and my heart to my throat.
The new car wasn’t there when the agitated cop pulled us over, looked in the driver’s side window and sternly asked “Do you have Rudolph in there?” It doesn’t have a thousand safety pins from decades of races in every nook and cranny. It didn’t wait for us in the parking lot during our first date to the Ani show. It’s never seen the sun set at the Grand Canyon or the last copy editor walking out of the building.
And it wasn’t by my side for half of my entire life as a trusted ally in crime, taking me through my darkest days and my biggest joys.
The new car isn’t my buddy, my wingman, my protector, my security blanket. It’s just a car.
I suppose it’s part of the cycle of life. We live, we die, we move on because we must. Maybe I’ll name this car Hondo Jr. We will bond. New adventures surely lie ahead.
Still, it’s hard not to keep looking back in the rear view mirror. It’s a pretty amazing view.
Bye, friend. I’ll miss you.