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  • Writer's pictureKelly Marks

Girls In Cars

One year when Madi was little, on the day after Christmas, Paul went to South Carolina to play golf with some family friends. In the little town of Camden, an old man turned left directly into Paul‘s car.

Paul was doing 22 mph, and yet they counted his car as totaled. I don’t want to say it must not have been worth much because you can figure that out for yourself.

I put Madi in her car seat, and we took off to pick him up. We went to the lot where they had towed his car, and he cleaned it out. He removed his CDs and coins and jackets and unused golf clubs.

A few days later, Paul negotiated online with the Honda dealership in Charlotte. He bought a brand new Civic. Beautiful car. I dropped him off at the dealership; he paid and drove home. It was the first time he had driven it. He never even went in for a test drive.

On the way home he realized he didn’t like the way his right leg hit against the console. When he got home, he told me he wanted to take my old car, and I could have the new one.

When all of Madi‘s friends' parents drove minivans, I drove my little Honda. When they upgraded to big SUVs, I drove my little Honda. When they upgraded to midlife crisis vehicles (I may be being a little judge-y there), I drove my little Honda.

That car carried Madi to birthday parties, to school; it carried a ton of Girl Scouts both to and from camping. Madi learned to drive in it.

This past summer the air conditioning went out. It’s 17 years old; it’s already got the high score on the odometer (206,000 miles), and it has become a guessing game as to what is the best value – to fix it or sell it.

Paul has hounded me to do the research, to decide what I want. I went so far as to clean out all the odds and ends, all the treasures that have become part of its interior. I was so depressed the whole time, but I did it. I even made an appointment to sell it but when I called, I realized it was July 4 and the dealerships were all closed. I took it as a sign and put everything back in.

I’m going to think of this as love and loyalty instead of an inordinate attachment. It’s been a great little car, and I really can’t imagine getting rid of it.

Last night my brother-in-law texted and asked what kind of car I was thinking of getting if I ever do. I told him I can’t decide because my heart’s not in it. He asked a few pointed questions, made a few seriously knowledgeable statements. Over 10 years ago, he might have made one tiny honest-to-goodness mistake over who painted the Sistine Chapel but within five minutes, he had researched and explained the ins and outs of the cars I was looking at with better reasoning than I had ever heard. I was intrigued. It might have been the very beginning of peeling my white knuckle hold off of that old steering wheel.

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