When I moved back from Prague in 2000, eleven months after Y2K panic subsided and eleven months before airplanes struck the Trade Centers and the Pentagon, I bought my first car. It was a brand new, “Blue Lagoon” colored Jetta – purchased at a maximum during the Christmastime rush. I did not get a deal. But I loved that car. From the minute I sat on the black leather seat – that conveniently included a butt warmer – and pushed the button that launched two impossibly durable, but flimsy-looking cup holders, I was sold. Turned on the dashboard which lit up in the reds and blues of an airport runway and I was in love.
Not so much a car enthusiast as a “girl,” I fell for the aesthetics The colors, the flash, the warm ass…But I fell hard.
The other day I traded in Jetta at what was decidedly the end of her long and loyal life. The final blow, a reversal of her polarity during a routine jumping (she was old and often needed a little help) – when a well-intentioned neighbor reattached the jumper cables incorrectly.
Jetta hobbled into the Honda dealership and netted us a cool $950, her bright blueberry blue gleaming in the sporadic May sun. This entry will feature her highlights – and a few of her lows – as I bid good-bye to an old friend.
Jetta, this is for you.
January, 2001: Jason Evege and I drive from Columbus, Ohio, south to Arkansas – get mildly freaked out in Texarkana, get lost in Texas, drive through a wall of fog, visit my grandparents in Phoenix, stop at a cousin’s in LA, and finally arrive with my “belongings” at my new home in San Francisco. Jetta’s one and only year with a garage.
July, 2002: A guy I’m dating projectile vomits in Jetta on the Bay Bridge. He spends the next day teaching me about “detailing a car.”
April, 2002: Jetta takes me to Cochella in Joshua Tree. 1) A coyote gets a little too close. 2) Joshua Tree has the kind of empty silences that hurt your ears. 3) Cochella is a rip off. I run out of money and have to drink water from a hose behind the bathroom tents. (That wasn’t about the car, but I just wanted to mention it…)
2001-2003: Drive bi-monthly up and down the California coast to sell clothes for Evege Studios. I know nothing about fashion. Jetta never judges even if most of the boutique owners do. Other weeks I drive north to Oregon. My car and my therapist are my only friends for about 3 lonely years of poor dating choices .
June, 2003: Cross country move from San Francisco to New York means Jetta is left at my sister’s house.
Winter, 2003-4: Jetta languishes on a driveway.
Summer, 2005: Fan belt breaks on a routine drive around the block. Jetta moves to Brooklyn.
Spring, 2006: My new boyfriend Aaron cracks Jetta’s spoiler on a Brooklyn curb, gives me a new spoiler (not attached to the car) as my very first Christmikkah present from him which leads to several moments of confusion over why I’ve been handed a body-sized, indistinguishable piece of black plastic. To this day that brand new spoiler lives in the basement. Sledding anyone?
Summer, 2006: Jetta suffers a gash in the hood during yet another repair. See photo caption.
July 2008: Driving to the beach with a group of girlfriends, Jetta breaks down on the New Jersey side of the Lincoln Tunnel in heavy traffic. I ride with the tow truck back to Queens. They rent a car and go on to the beach. I curse my car.
Spring, 2009:Jetta is hit by a large truck while I am standing still at a red light and has a wheel well gouged and a mirror knocked off. I learn that New York is a no fault state which means Jetta never gets fixed and proceeds to scratch legs and arms pretty good in subsequent years making us look either hardcore or very clumsy.
Summer, 2010: My love proposes to me in that Jetta, in gear, foot on break, outside the post office after picking up a package of “Pickles” from his “mother”. Although I mock him later for his choice of venue and the phrase, “Doyouwantapickle?Doyouwanttogetmarried?”, I secretly couldn’t imagine a better place or phrase. And Jetta becomes immortalized as a testament to our love.
July, 2011:I marry Aaron Fannin in Massachusetts. To celebrate our love, Jetta breaks down at a gas station off the Taconic filled with all of our presents on our way home.
(I’m actually tearing up…)