Thursday, July 24, 2014

Ode to Camry

A few weeks ago, we said "goodbye" to my 2001 Toyota Camry. After finding a great deal for a new vehicle online, the time had come. (What we replaced the car with is neither here nor there...but it IS in my garage! Let's just say that every Friday, I silently acknowledge our weekly "VANniversary", and, weeks later, it's still like Christmas morning every time I open the door to the garage.)

But, bidding the car "farewell" wasn't without a fair amount of emotion, silly though that sounds. The Camry was "just a car", of course...made of metal and steel, and not a person in any sense. But, "she" was a part of my day-to-day life for approximately ten years, keeping me warm & cool & comfortable. The Lord kept me safe, and used the car as an instrument to do so. For that, I'm grateful.

I have so many memories associated with the Camry....

  • Driving it in high school, after wrecking my first car. My mom had been driving it before that for a short time, and then my parents generously allowed it to be "mine". 
  • Dating Bobby, driving to and from his house, often cutting curfew a bit too close for wanting to stay with my handsome high school sweetheart as long as possible.
  • Packing the trunk and interior so very full as I left for college at Mizzou, and driving back and forth from Columbia many, many times over four years.
  • Getting pulled over. The ONE time. On my way home from college at Christmastime. To see my parents...who I love so much...who probably never heard that story...and will ask questions about it now.
  • Going to work at San Francisco Oven on so many summer days, often changing out of my hot and regularly food-stained khaki pants and restaurant shoes the moment I got into the car.
  • (I'm just sure my dad isn't even reading these bullet points anymore for being stuck on that one about being pulled over. Keep reading, Dad!)
  • Having a blown tire on the highway, headed home from MU in the middle of nowhere, and being rescued by a Highway Patrolman who happened to be passing. Such a blessing.
  • Visiting Bobby at CMU, on a weekend or to watch him play baseball. Those drives to see him were so anticipated and brought such happiness!
  • Being hit on the way to church one Sunday morning by a cyclist participating in a race through Columbia. Bobby, my roommate, and I were sitting at a stop light, waiting for the police officer directing traffic as the cyclists made their way through the intersection. He gave us the go-ahead, and as we slowly accelerated, we were suddenly hit on the rear driver's side of the car by a cyclist, who, though relatively uninjured, left a greasy faceprint on the backseat window. The Camry only sustained minor damage, which was paid for by the eye clinic sponsoring the race. I can only assume they took care of the cyclist's minor injuries, too. Poor guy. Given his location in town at that time of morning, he must've been doing fairly well in the race up until that point. Big bummer. What a strange (and frankly, comical) situation that was.
  • Generously being given the car as a college graduation gift from my parents. 
  • That time my sister's boyfriend (who later became her husband) backed into the parked car in my parents' driveway and had to come inside to tell my dad. This was days before our wedding, and resulted in our getting a rental car to use that week while the Camry was fixed, which we then drove to Wisconsin post-wedding. This event was so impactful that I found a way (oh, you KNOW I found a way....) to incorporate it into my Matron of Honor speech at Rachel and Brice's wedding.
  • Using it as our primary (most reliable) vehicle for the early days of our marriage.
  • Driving to and from Springfield from our first home together in St. Louis.
  • Dealing with the awful stench coming from somewhere in the car, driving with the windows down in the heat of summer, on the freeways in St. Louis, for a week or so until we could get it to the shop. I cannot describe how much it reeked. And, after the repairman found a dead mouse somewhere in the air conditioning unit, we learned that it was, in fact, the smell of death. So gross.
  • Finding a replacement hub cap at a salvage yard with my dad after I lost one, somewhere, somehow. 
  • Smashing the passenger side mirror as I reversed a bit too quickly out of the garage.... My dad says that it really was a bit of an "abusive relationship" between the Camry and me. He's not really wrong. Over the past few years, she just didn't receive the maintenance that a car deserves from a responsible owner, and I am sorry about that. She was never less than faithful, though!
  • Having morning sickness in the Bed Bath & Beyond parking lot while I was pregnant with Emerson, and having the car nearly overheat when I was running errands solo the day I went into labor.
  • Those first solo drives with my brand new baby in the backseat.
  • Driving around, running errands with Emerson, often nursing or soothing her in the back seat between stops.
  • Sitting in the garage in a lawn chair, watching Emerson sleep peacefully in her carseat after falling asleep on a drive, waiting for her nap to end before going inside.
  • Washing the car with Emerson, as she eagerly assisted with soaping and scrubbing and rinsing...and more soaping.
  • Watching Emerson learn to climb in her carseat all by herself...and often into the front seat to "drive". 

I knew that car like the back of my hand, and it was a part of so many different seasons of my life like I suspect no other vehicle will be. In many ways, selling that car was Bobby and me saying "goodbye" to another piece of life before "us" this case, the car that was "mine" before it was "ours". As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer things like that, and almost five years into marriage, it's fun to see so many belongings of ours existing from decisions and purchases we've made together.

So, here's to a great, faithful old car...& to the excitement of the new ride, the adventures we'll go on, and the memories to be made with it...wherever the road may lead!


  1. And the time that guy on a bicycle ran into your car at a stoplight in CoMo! haha

    1. Ahh, Mallory!!! How could I forget that?! It left quite the impression! (Literally. The poor guy's face on the window!) Such a great story. I'll have to update my list, for sure! Thanks for the reminder!