Why is it so hard to say goodbye to old cars, even when one is entirely uninterested in cars at large and all matters automobiliac? I've donated my 28-year-old Camry to the San Francisco Opera, which seems a fitting end for it, and something my parents—whose car it was for much of the 28 years—would have gotten a kick out of. (I'm thinking it might well turn up as a prop in one of the ubiquitous post-apocalyptic productions!)
The tow truck picked it up just now. We took it for one last drive this morning, down to the ocean front, and while parked there we saw a whale—and later three or four dolphins. I love seeing the many moods of the ocean; today's was sparkly, with a lone paddleboarder tiny and insignificant against the vast shimmering light. All symbols of parting or something, of life carrying on.
The Camry became one of those legendary cars driven only on Sundays by a little old lady, to church—but in my mother's case, to the casino. The Camel Rock Casino out by the Tesuque Pueblo in that high desert country.
I drove the car reluctantly in Santa Fe, because it seemed to take up more room than legitimate on the narrowest roads. I know we bundled piñon logs into the trunk one Christmas, having driven up the road of artists, Canyon Road, to the woodyard of Jesus Rios, snowflakes in the air but not yet feathering up on the ground. We drove to Bandelier often, with all kinds of good things for picnics by little Bean Creek, and she would sit with her thermos of coffee while I walked up the path soft with fallen evergreen needles to climb cottonwood ladders up the cliffs to the Ceremonial Cave, sometimes with thunderclouds bruising the canyon. I drove it out to Tsankawi the afternoon of many New Year's Eves, the last day of the year, to again climb to Anasazi caves, smelling the juniper and pungent berries on my fingers after, going home to sit by a piñon fire.
And when my mother died we packed it with the last of the Heritage books (Dumas and Henry James, Kenilworth, The Woman in White), and the big round cottonwood drum that years of martini glasses sat on, on careful coasters, while dinner was readying, and drove it back to northern California through Flagstaff, Las Vegas, a couple of California missions, Gilroy.
This morning I remembered at the last minute to take the three-stranded car charm she'd hung from the visor, hoping its blessings haven't worn out like the long-faded blue paint and almost every part under the hood, and can be brought inside with the reluctantly signed Notice of Transfer.
image: Pinterest, Ancient Car