On Getting Blindsided, and Car Love

Last night I got T-boned by some guy in an SUV running a red light. It was a slow speed street, so thankfully,  I appear to physically be all right, apart from a seatbelt bruise (apparently neck injuries can take days to manifest, so I’m crossing my fingers). My car, on the other hand… sigh.

I won’t know what the status is until next week when I can actually talk to the insurance adjuster and get my car looked at. But it’s not really drive-able. I thought it was, until I drove it home from the accident and realized that any right turns or bumps created a horrible crunching/dragging noise, apparently shaving bits of tire tread and doing whatever else. Last night, it looked like I’d just need a new rear drivers-side door. By day, however, it’s clear that the damage is a lot worse.

I’m heartbroken, y’all. It’s a Honda. My first Honda. I love that car. The thought of it being hurt, or worse – having to replace it, literally brings tears to my eyes.

The irony is that this is the first “normal” car I’ve ever had. My first car was a ’73 orange Super Beetle. I drove that thing until the engine literally collapsed in it. No, really – I was on a road trip of doom from Tennessee to Boston and back, and it was pouring rain at 2 in the morning in the Adirondacks of New York, with construction and 18-wheelers all around me, when I suddenly could not shift into first or second gears. Or was it first and third. I don’t remember. That turned into the very first hotel room I ever rented on my own. When I got up the next morning, the left side of the engine was hanging from the bottom of the car, having apparently fallen off the mounts and was laying on the clutch cables. I managed to coax the poor baby to my parents’ house in Ohio, where it retired while I bussed it back to TN.

My car after that – well, I guess it was “normal.” But I didn’t buy it or pick it out. It was a practical, cheap, and convenient little Datsun Sentra. Yes, Datsun Sentra. No, I’m not that old, but the car was. It was silver, and leaked water when it rained, and the doors had this high-pitched squeak to them so that, all things combined, it was known as the Dolphin Car.

From there, I got to “borrow”/inherit my mom’s Escort station wagon, which was “normal” too, I guess. My relationship with that car was on/off as I migrated from Tennessee to Ohio to Boston to Atlanta. Eventually I officially owned it, and not long after that, the brakes completely gave out while I was exiting 85 North in rush hour traffic. That was fun. No, really – it was fun because I got to show off my badass stick-shift coolheaded driving skills and not get killed while downshifting my happy ass to safety. I was very sad to retire the Escort, but its time in snowy-salty Ohio, combined with my last few months in Boston on the bay near the airport (salt air), had eaten the brake lines through.

Enter the second car I ever picked out and purchased on my own – Peg, the blueprint-blue PT Cruiser. I wanted to love her. I did love her interior and quirky looks. But the extended warranty I shelled out money for, MORE than paid for itself. Peg, as it turns out, was kind of a lemon. Like about half the PT Cruisers out there. Or more than half. I don’t know. All I do know is that apparently some of them are absolutely great cars, and others are nothing but trouble. Peg was the latter. My husband finally begged me to trade it in while it had any value left at all, before I wound up stranded out in the middle of bumfuck Georgia or worse.

Which brings me to my beloved Honda, Hermione. She sat in the Carmax lot for months – I recalled casually browsing their inventory and noting her way before we actually decided to get me a newer car. She was still there because of the stick shift, I’m certain. I love that car. It’s not quirky, it’s not even an interesting color – just white with beige interior. But she drives beautifully and she’s mine. Practical and smart and fuel efficient as hell for a non-hybrid. And now she’s crumpled in on the side, wounded, crippled, and possibly beyond repair.

I realize it’s silly and selfish and I should just be grateful that *my* injuries were minimal-to-none. But I don’t want a newer car, or a replacement, I want my Honda. I’m just – sad.

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