Hi & Goodbye
My earliest childhood memories are of my adventures with my mom in her little red Plymouth Horizon. From state to state and job to job and house to house, we went everywhere in that little red car. That car took me to my first ice-skating lesson and my first sleepover, in fact the only other car I remember as vividly is my dad's old, black Jeep CJ-7 with the soft top that snapped on and brittle plastic windows. He would take the top and doors off and he, my mom and I would explore campgrounds and lakes and rivers and go to drive-in movies, it was bouncy and crazy loud and I loved it.
After my dad left when I was 11, I think I spent the next ten years craning my neck at every black Jeep that drove by to look for him. My first car was a Plymouth acclaim that I lost in an accident and years later my favorite vehicle ever, my khaki 2004 Jeep Rubicon came into my life. I loved that Jeep, felt totally invincible and free in it and I hope everyone has at least one car in their lifetime that makes them feel that good.
When some diligent thieves decided to make off with my Rubicon one sunny April Fool's Day, I decided it was a sign and started prepping to leave sunny California and head back to Oregon. Fittingly enough, I flew home to get my mom's ancient Jeep Wagoneer and drove it down to LA and around LA (all summer with no air-conditioning, lol) before finally heading back to Oregon in August of that year. It was loud and noisy and drank gas the way alcoholics drink, well, alcohol. I loved every minute of driving it. As I pulled into a rest stop near the California border on that long, hot drive home, after 700 miles of country songs that reminded me of my dad and his Jeep, my grandmother called and informed me that he'd passed away.
I took a break from Jeeps after that, drove a Saab and an Acura for a while, flirted with a Nissan once on vacation, and even tried committing to an uncharacteristically uncooperative Toyota. But in June of 2011, I found myself behind the wheel of a shiny, red Jeep Liberty with attitude. She misbehaved a little here and there but in general was a trusty friend until a few months ago when her pesky check engine light came one.
At first the extended warranty helped a little, covering 1/2 of her $1000 visit to the Jeep dealership, then 2 weeks ago, it went on again. This time, with a bill of over $2000 looming (a cylinder head that needs replacing with only 65,000 miles on it), it might be time to kiss this lifelong love affair with Jeeps goodbye.
I've learned a lot from my Jeeps. I've learned sometimes, most of the time actually, if you let it go, it doesn't come back whether there was love involved or not. I've learned that someone or something you haven't seen in 20 years can break your heart into so many more pieces than one you saw yesterday. I've learned that sometimes, with enough determination, the little engine really can. And I've learned that you have to love every minute because, no matter how carefully you maintain your engine, how many oil changes and services you get, it can all end so very quickly, without time for one last off road adventure.
It's a couple of days late in the year, but here's my resolution for 2013. I resolve to give other vehicles a chance, to not be so blinded by the Jeeps that I can't see the forest and all the amazing adventures that wait there, and to love every second.