"We can't afford it," I was told. But I said that we could, and furthermore because we could we had to buy a hybrid car way back in 2005 to help create demand for the technology. And I am nothing if not stubborn. And this car has carried me many miles and through a lot in 12 years.
Scene: the side of the road in rural northern Wyoming. The Prius is riding low, packed with two people, two cats, one dog, two bikes, a rooftop bag, multiple suitcases, and a litter box. As we work two cellphones to figure out why the "check engine" light has come on and whether anyone can service this thing within 200 miles, a bemused mechanic in a shop in East LA assures us long-distance that we just need to think about scheduling an oil change.
Scene: I am pumping my fist in the air as I manage to do my entire 1.5 hour commute home to rural Virginia from work in DC without dropping below 85 miles per gallon, forgetting for just a moment that I have to turn around and do it all again tomorrow. Environmentalism with a side of smugness is not really a pretty thing, but it is delicious.
Scene: I take my sweet old dog to the vet for the last time in that car, because she can't walk anymore and I have to gently lift and carry her to be relieved of her suffering.
It's been a trooper these many years (but not a Trooper, just a bit of car humor there), but I don't drive it much anymore, and after all these years the fancy battery feels dodgy to me. So I cleared out 12 registrations listing 5 different addresses. I pulled out the canvas grocery shopping bags that so rarely made the shift from car to store. I unscrewed the "Green Bay Packers Owner" license plate holder from the bumper, proof of the dangers of combing beer, a credit card, and a smart phone resulting in two shares of Packer's stock. I shook Molly's orange dog hair off a blanket stuffed in the trunk, and I briefly contemplated a forgotten ID from a college Michael taught at back at the dawn of his academic career.
Today I handed over the keys and title, and the car that served me through my 40's was towed away. Tomorrow I turn 50. My new black-haired dog and I will clamber up into the big red truck that still stands in the driveway to go to the trails, and I'll just have to see where the road takes us from there.