Topaz, my friend
12:33 p.m. on July 07, 2004
Living in the city, there is really no need for a car. The bus system rules and there is no parking anyway. When I was 27, my parents decided to buy a new car for my Mom to drive, so they offered me their 1986 Mercury Topaz. To get it to Seattle, I flew to California & then the plan was for my Dad to drive with me as far as Portland & then he would get a ride back with a buddy who was on his way back. My Dad is a freak, so even though it is only a 14-hour drive to Seattle & we were spending the night in Portland, my Dad insisted we leave at 4:00 AM. He was to drive the first leg and then we would switch off periodically. I had made a mixed tape that I thought he would like & tried to play it as we left Ukiah. He yelled at me to go to sleep. At 27 years old, I was incensed to be yelled at to go to sleep. This was not a good beginning to our trip. I wanted to tell him off, but instead, slumped over with my arms folded in pretend sleep, while I fumed silently for 3 hours. We stopped for some breakfast & then he let me drive for approximately 30 minutes before he freaked again and insisted he would make better time. We were staying at my cousins house & arrived by 1:30 PM having had no lunch. My cousin and his family were very kind and were planning a nice dinner, but they literally do not eat until after 10:00 PM on a normal basis. I was starved and exhausted by the time we ate. The next day was my turn to take the car & leave my Dad behind. I was thankful for the car and the help getting it most of the way home, but I was so happy to be getting back to my life with considerable familial distance.

My Mom told me to just drive the car into the ground, it was not worth putting any money into it. I disagreed. Now that I had a taste of vehicle ownership, I knew if this car died, it would cost me to have to replace it, so every year I put another few hundred into it to keep it running. Driving with me was for anyone with a death wish, since I had not yet built up any kind of driving intuition. I kept the car for another 5 years and it never let me down. Then my mother died and the car became a symbol of her.

Since we were moving into an area that requires interstate commute, I decided it was finally time to get a reliable car. I had $3000 in the bank and traded the cash for a 1993 Saturn SL2 with a sunroof & electric windows. I prepared the Topaz to try & sell it. Cleaning it out with my friend's help was emblematic of preparing the body and I became quite emotional. I tried to sell it, but was surprised at how picky I was over who would become it’s next owner & I was unsuccessful at giving the car a new home. When Sasha’s Mom visited for a month at Christmas, she was able to use the car & it worked out quite well.

After only 9 months, the Saturn started making a weird grinding noise at start up and had trouble shifting gears when approaching 40 miles an hour. I took it in for a diagnostic test & they said the Transmission was shot & would cost $3000 to replace. Dammit. The Topaz was there, but was just too unsafe to make the daily commute to work. I ended up getting a car from my mechanic for $1600 I had to borrow. It was a 1983 BMW. I am so not a BMW owner and find it very funny that this is my car and that I went from having no car for so many years and now I have 3.

I began to feel very guilty making the Topaz sit around that I finally decided to donate it to the American Cancer Society. They will pick up the old girl today. I gave her a hug when I left the house this morning and told her I loved her.





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