At about this time a week ago I was riding in a car across the Tappan Zee Bridge like I do during so many times in my travels between my native Connecticut and my new (four years new) home New Jersey. The only difference was I was riding in my parents’ car and not driving my Pontiac Vibe.
The ordeal that was the eventual death of my beloved car started the previous night. On my ride to visit my friends for the evening, the car started making a clicking, pinging noise when I accelerated the car. It continued the following morning. My dad and I added some oil and drove it. He thought maybe I got some bad gas and things would be fine. That would not be the case.
As I merged onto 287 from the Hutchinson Parkway, my car started making a loud, angry noise. The noise continued even if I was not accelerating the car. A few minutes later, there was nothing. The engine failed. Thank goodness for momentum to get me off the highway and onto the exit ramp since it was a construction zone and there was no place for me to pull to the side of the road. And then began the ordeal to get the car towed and to a local garage to be fixed, but I knew the car was done. My car was 7 1/2 years old (purchased in December 2003 after I totaled my previous car in a snow storm) and had nearly 150,000 miles. There was no shock when the mechanic called Tuesday morning to tell us it was not worth fixing the car. I’d have to come clean out the car and turn over the car to them to junk it. I don’t think I shed any tears, but it was an emotional moment and few days.
I started thinking about how that car has been integral to my life over the course of nearly a decade. When you work in journalism, like to travel and just like to drive in general, your car becomes like a family member. I admit I have a romanticism for the road, and I’ve never figured out how that feeling originated. It’s just always been there.
The car has taken me through six jobs — The Hour, WestportNow.com, NJMG, my short time at 1010 WINS, Patch and now NJ.com. Three of those jobs had a lot of driving associated with them. It got me through a year of graduate school, which was at the same time I was at WestportNow. There were days I started my day driving to Westport, then to class at Quinnipiac in Hamden and then back to Westport. I particularly remember one day where I started the day reporting in Westport, drove to Hamden for classes and then turned around to cover a RTM meeting on the underage drinking ordinance that lasted past 1 a.m. Not to mention the night I took off after class to cover the election in Westport. And in my Patch days, there were plenty of nights after long Board of Education meetings on the budget or redistricting a year ago I was stuck in traffic on the Garden State Parkway because of construction.
There was also the move to New Jersey. We didn’t hire movers, and my Vibe made several trips between Connecticut and New Jersey, loaded down with clothes, pots and pans, books (I own way too many) and furniture. Yes, furniture actually fit in that car.
Not to mention all of the traveling. There was my regular trips to the North Shore in Massachusetts and down south to Washington (before the train became a much better option). There were the trips to visit friends and family. There were the trips to conferences. There were my hockey and baseball trips, like to the AHL All Star Game in New Hampshire during the lockout and out to Long Island to see the Rangers beat the Islanders (my birthday present from my then-boyfriend). There were countless trips to Shea Stadium. I had wanted to drive across country (still do), but never got a chance to do it. And, of course, the driving around aimlessly, which became less and less since I don’t have a driving partner these days.
There were lots of laughs in that car and some tears. My Vibe knew as much as I did since countless off the record conversations happened in the car. I was in the car when my source called me to tell me I could have a copy of the infamous slut list. She took me up Minute Man Hill to see the Rudolph House on tips the house was being demolished NOW
(never was the case). Plus there was lots of music (she had a six disc CD changer), especially the Foo Fighters and Led Zeppelin. Last CDs in the changer: Foo Fighters — Wasting Light, Foo Fighters — Greatest Hits, Foo Fighters — There Is Nothing Left to Lose, Them Crooked Vultures — Them Crooked Vultures, Red Hot Chili Peppers — Stadium Arcadium (both discs).
A few people haven’t understood my attachment to the car, especially as I was in mourning for a few days last week. A lot has changed in my life, but there was always one constant — my Pontiac Vibe. She took me to a lot of important places and through a lot of important moments in my life. The fact she’s not here was I embark on some important changes in my life makes me feel I truly have opened a new chapter.
I picked up my new car on Saturday — a Chevy Cruze. I’ve instantly fallen in love and all I want to do is drive it. I doubt she’ll see the same life moments the Vibe did, but I can see already she’ll be an important part of my life.