Cars can hold such a special meaning in our lives. When buying a car, the focus tends to be on budget and needs. Though it may not be realized in that moment, choosing a car is in many ways like choosing a friend. They become the backdrop to our lives.
I got my Corolla back in 2006. At the time, all I wanted was a truck. I was a sophomore in college and was more concerned with the rising gas prices and ensuring I had a reliable vehicle that could last me through undergraduate and graduate school. A truck was a luxury that I couldn’t quite afford yet. I settled on getting a car that I hoped would drive forever, or at least until the wheels fell off. With everything I put my Corolla through, it’s a little surprising that the wheels didn’t fall off.
The first few years in my Corolla were full of fun. Not long after getting my car, Kristyn and I started dating. She became the most frequent (and most important) passenger. It spent spring and fall shuttling me back and forth to classes and jobs. Its summers were spent taking road trips to beaches, mountains, and many concerts. In between, life kept unfolding. Kristyn and I quickly fell head over heels for each other. Every new adventure was just another excuse to be together and my car took us wherever we wanted to go.
As undergrad came to a close, my car began to take us to bigger places. Graduate school and real jobs came calling. I decided to take my Tennessee roots north to experience New England. Winters in Massachusetts yielded some of the toughest driving the Corolla ever faced. Between the intense schedule of grad school, we traveled all over New England exploring our new backyard. We even found the time to take a few trips home to Tennessee, 17 hours away.
Our little Corolla even climbed up Mt. Washington, the highest peak in the Northeast (6,288 ft). My brakes were never the same after descending that epic climb.
Graduation day eventually came. Life took us to a town just outside of Boston as I landed my first job out of school. The crazy commuting in Boston nearly took the Corolla’s life almost daily (there’s no interstate commute like that of a Bostonian headed to work). Yet, it survived. The Corolla took us back and forth from Boston as we planned our wedding down in Knoxville, Tennessee. After saying our vows and pledging our love, the Corolla took us to the coast for our honeymoon and back home to New England again never relenting.
We again uprooted our lives and moved back south ultimately landing in Atlanta. With equally famous traffic, we again placed the life of the Corolla in the hands of the public. Yet again, it survived. This past January, it took its last epic road trip when Kristyn and I explored the Florida coast on our way down to Key West.
After enduring more than 215,000 grueling miles, the Corolla finally met its match a couple of weeks ago. A heavy pop up shower appeared as we were driving home after meeting our new nephew. Puddles quickly formed on the oily asphalt. Our tires hit the right puddle and the car hydroplaned into the guardrail. The severe damage still wasn’t enough to keep the Corolla from being able to travel 5 hours to deliver us home safe and sound. (You can read more about that day here.)
After all of the damaged was assessed, the Corolla was considered a total loss. Even though our insurance company had decided the car wasn’t worth saving, we had to take the Corolla out for one last spin before saying goodbye. We decided that our first trip to Atlanta’s best drive-in was in order. We loaded up Ellie dog, rolled the windows down and enjoyed our last ride together.
It wasn’t a fancy car, but I loved it. It wasn’t what I ever expected to drive, but it fit like a glove. Years flew by. The adventures piled up as did the miles and memories. A whole new family was formed as the pavement flew by. Now the search has begun again for a new car to join the family. There are many new chapters to write equally full of adventure just with a few more passengers.