Goodbye, old friend

For those who haven't heard, I recently had to say goodbye to a friend I've known for 12 years, and who's been especially important to me over the last seven. I am, of course, referring to my car.

Yes, the khaki/gold/tan/beige-colored Focus that I bought off of my dad at 16 years old is no more. It wasn't much of a surprise, as the thing has been showing its age for years. The underside is rustier than Brett Favre's arm, the air conditioning spews more hot air than Rex Ryan, and there's enough duct tape on it to stick DJ Khaled to a wall for a week. But I can't help but feel a little sad that the car responsible for so many memories is now a memory itself.

The car came into our family after its predecessor set my house on fire when I was in fifth grade. That's not a joke, that's an actual thing that happened to us. So this one came along as a much-needed replacement.

Me with the Focus in the background. July, 2005.

The first time I ever sat behind the steering wheel was when I was 15. My mom had been allowing me to move her van in the driveway when I needed to mow the lawn around where she parked. I'd never moved the Focus though, because it was a manual transmission, and was well beyond my comprehension at the time. In spite of this, I told her I could do it, and proceeded to dart across the driveway, braking halfway onto the yard, nestled perfectly between a large maple tree and a lamppost with just inches to spare on each side. My mom 
 who'd been sitting in the passenger's seat to guide me  was furious. She was yelling and screaming so loud that my neighbor's party across the street came to a screeching halt so they could see what the commotion was. Needless to say, I wasn't allowed to do that again for a while.

The car managed to squeeze between the tree and lamppost pictured here. The one-story house directly behind the two is where the party was.

When I turned 16, I made a deal with my parents to buy the car from them for $2,400. Since it was January, I was forced to learn how to drive standard in the snow at Chestnut Ridge. Those of you who have been at Chestnut Ridge know those hilly roads are no easy task to master in the winter.

I remember my mom wanted to get a picture of me in the car holding up the keys after the arrangement was made, and yet when that day finally came, we both forgot. A few days later, she mentioned it again and said we could stage it even though it wasn't the same. We both forgot again, but to this day I wish I would have remembered it for her sake.

This time around, Emily made sure to get a picture of me with my brand-new car right after I drove it off the lot.

Having my own car was great because it 
meant that I wouldn't have to take the school bus anymore. I hated the bus because of how long the rides were and the obnoxious people on my route, both of which were amplified when I was forced to take the late bus.

It was also a big deal for me to get a car since I was among the first of my friends to do it. My best friend Aaron would occasionally ask me to drive him to school, and whenever we did, a stop at Tim Hortons was usually involved.

Eventually Aaron got his own car too, and then another one that I couldn't ride around in while hanging onto the sunroof and dangling off the back. Even still, many Tim Hortons donuts and Might Taco burritos were had in these cars. August, 2012.

My car wasn't "hip" or "with it," so all I had for music was the radio or CDs. I tried those radio-based plug-ins, but the volume on those was never particularly good. I tried a Bluetooth speaker, but that was a pain. 

As such, I often burned songs onto discs that covered every spectrum of human emotion. My all-time favorite was one called "MC Shots Official Party Album of Life." It was a great mix of LMFAO, Troop 41, and The Lonely Island. "Shots," "I Just Had Sex," "Do The John Wall," "Party Rock Anthem," and "Jack Sparrow" were just some of the many classics that blared through the speakers driving down the 219, leaving Coca-Cola Field, or in the parking lot at Union Pleasant (that last one only happened once, but it was legendary).

That car saw a lot of fun times.
  • It carried me over the great Roundabouts of Hamburg (before the monuments were installed) numerous times, much to the shock of my passengers.
  • It got a flat on Clark Street when I took an ill-advised U-turn trying to chase down Aaron.
  • It made countless food runs before volleyball games (like the time Tim Horbachewski was stuffed in the trunk after a trip to McDonald's because there was no room for him in the seats).
  • It held eight people and 16 changes of clothes not-so-comfortably during a late-night, post-prom rendezvous.
  • It slid into a ditch one winter day, where both of us sat at a 40-degree angle for hours in the cold waiting for the tow truck – two blocks from my house.
  • After my graduation party, a blow-up doll found its way into the passenger seat. She was then stabbed in the back with the key to the Focus before being unceremoniously dumped into a pool.
  • It rolled away one night while parked in my driveway, and the police had to knock on my door at 4 a.m. to tell me to move it out of the middle of the road.
I won't reminisce on the times I was wrongfully given speeding tickets, or when I ripped off the rear bumper cover, or forgot I needed toll money the first time I went to Grand Island on my own. Those were more stressful, less giddy times the two of us shared. Nevertheless, they're still part of our story.

To the surprise of probably nobody, I replaced it with a newer Ford Focus. One that will assume all the responsibilities of the old one, but never quite replace it.

The photoshoot and album cover for MC Shots' second album,

Last day of high school. June, 2012.

Much like window paint, the memories of my old car will never completely leave me. September, 2016.

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