“Often I sit, and I yearn.” – Kramer
Wendy and I are no more. If you followed my blog last year you’ll recall Wendy as the ’95 Honda Civic I drove from Seattle to Panama and then put on a boat for South America. I grew quite attached to that car. Wendy and I were kindred spirits. We laughed together, we played together, and we even got a ticket for making an illegal left turn together.
I have so many poignant memories of my time spent with Wendy. Driving up to the Valle de Anton in Panama, at night, in the rain, smoking a cigarette with the window cracked just enough to let the smoke out, squinting into the darkness. Crossing the border into Guatemala, also in the rain, the merciless rain, thanking God for my waterproof backpack, and thanking God I made it across and had the pleasure of driving some of the most potholed streets in Central America.
Every morning when I woke up, wherever I was, Wendy was outside. At night when I went to bed she lay securely outside, or inside, dreaming of whatever adventures might befall us the next day. On the entire trip we had to go to the mechanic only once, so that Wendy could get a new muffler, after which she purred like a contented ocelot. You could put any oil in Wendy — 5w-30, 10w-30, 20w-50 — she didn’t care. All she wanted was the open road under her feet, the breeze in her midnight blue hair.
Of course, Wendy and I shared hard moments, too. While driving the pampas of Argentina a family of choique (birds that look like small ostriches) darted across the highway and though I tried to swerve, Wendy decided that one of the birds’ lives needed to come to an end. I pulled to the side of the road and got out of the car, put a plastic bag over my hand, walked back, and dragged the dead bird’s body off the road. When I got back to the car I said to the two hitchhikers I was carrying, “I feel bad.”
Maybe I did the wrong thing selling Wendy. I can already tell that trip was one of the most important in my life, and a good deal of it had to do with my time spent in the automobile. We developed a relationship. I spent more time with Wendy than with anyone else on the entire trip.
Now, I’m back in Seattle, and when I want to get to Bellevue to do an interpreting assignment, for example, I don’t open the door to my 4-speed goddess; I take the bus. Which disappointing. I miss her. Where once was Wendy, there’s now a void.
But, time heals all, and I can take comfort in the fact that maybe one day I’ll go back, not necessarily to retrieve her (though that would be wonderful), but at least to say “hi.” To see how she’s doing in Tierra del Fuego. To see if she speaks Spanish. To see how the new muffler is holding up, if she still burns oil and, most importantly, to see if she still remembers.