Yesterday was a very expensive day. Approximately $600 went into my 2005 Kia Spectra, “Ruby” as I call her. Yes, I feel my car has a personality, it’s female and I named her. We’ve already been through this so you can’t make fun of me.
Anyway, I digress. The money spent was to get a new timing belt, water pump and to service my air conditioning. Living in the desert makes having a working A/C a necessity out here – at least I believe it’s a necessity. The money, t hough a huge dent in my financial plans, etc., is well worth it. First – as events unraveled and I did a little research, I really should have had my timing belt replaced at 60,000 miles and my lovely car is now at a little more than 114,000. There was a sudden feeling as though I was living on borrowed time, a very uncomfortable feeling and I don’t recommend it.
It was recommended to also get the water pump replaced because it would mean saving money on labor, parts and another trip to “the doctor.” The A/C was only serviced but didn’t need fixing so that was relatively “cheap.”
As I weighed the options, it occurred to me to be well worth putting a big dent in my savings account, even dipping into my travel fund, to ensure my car is in good working order, and not just to save myself of having to buy another car should the timing belt go out. I love my car. I’ve had this car six years and it’s been incredibly reliable. Hell, it’s turned out to be more reliable than a few friends of mine, who sadly, aren’t in my life anymore.
Let me tell you – the importance of my car increased significantly the moment I chose to move to Needles. I moved to small city almost 1,000 miles from friends and family. I didn’t know anyone in Needles when I moved here, except for my editor whom I met only once for an on location interview. My car was literally the only friend I had when I moved here and she’s been amazing.
I was so nervous to learn to drive, especially a standard. Now, I wouldn’t have it any other way, but at the time it was not so easy to learn how to push in the clutch, learning the timing of how to release the clutch and push on the gas at the same time. Once I did learn, however, it genuinely meant my freedom. When I was 17, I had my license and my own car, a 1992 Mazda Protege. I finally never named that car but she too was a she and like Ruby, was spunky and supported my love of driving. She had real get up and go for a little car and didn’t mind going everywhere. As I became more comfortable behind the wheel, I’d just take off for drives. I’d just go all over the city, learning all the nooks and crannies and figuring out how they all connected. I’d literally get lost and find my way back home. I always felt it was the best way to learn my surroundings.
One of my most important drives ever was in that car. I was a sophomore in college and that fall was emotional for me. My parents were finally going through a divorce, which to be fair I felt should happen but that never prepares you. For some reason I was also just more stressed that semester and it was tough. One of my best friends and I seemed to fighting a lot and there were other pressures. One night, after having dealt with a jack ass (that’s another story I probably won’t discuss ever because I’d hate to give him any credit or attention whatsoever) and a bit of a disagreement via phone, I finally snapped. I started bawling my eyes out as I was speaking with my friend, ran to my dorm room, grabbed my keys, ran down the stairs and out to my car. Okay so I was a bit dramatic that night. I’m not proud. In my defense, when that emotionally stressed, you can’t really reason things out as one would normally do so there you have it.
Anyway, I took off in my car. I drove out of Greeley (where I was going to school – UNC-Greeley) and thought “um where do I go now?” So then I headed to Boulder, which from Greeley would be about an hour drive. I got to Boulder and was like, hmm where to now? Before long, I headed up Canyon Road, a beautiful two-lane curvy mountain road that I absolutely love. Oh – did I forget to mention it’s about 9 p.m. when I left Greeley? Yeah it was pitch dark and in the middle of the week. Anyway, Canyon Road leads to a point where you have to decide to either keep going, or turnaround otherwise you’re kind of screwed. I kept going. I ended up in Nederland, which meant again too late to turn around. From there I headed to Estes Park.
The road at this point is a fairly narrow two-lane road, it’s in a very rural area so it’s pitch dark. It’s in the mountain so who knows what kinds of animals were running around but I didn’t even care. I wasn’t thinking about any of it. I was still bawling my eyes out, listening to the CD. I was, despite my emotional condition, very alert to the road and surroundings. It did help that for some reason that night there were no animals around to jar me out of whatever trance I was in or other headlights to bring me down to reality. It was me, my car and the mixed CD I had in the player. By the time I got home, it was about 1 a.m. or so… a four hour drive and I cried the entire time. Apparently, I had a lot to get off my chest and my car was there for me. She understood. When no one else does… my car, my radio/CD player always does. It was a perfect night. I don’t always need words of advice. I don’t even always need a specific voice. That night – I just needed to be me and my car understood that. There were no words, just comfort, and that was the best medicine. I always loved driving but ever since that night, a long drive does a lot to cure me, especially when I don’t have someone else I can turn to at that moment.
Ruby does the same for me. I’ll probably discuss those nights and drives more later but she’s been a true pal. I’ve been lucky to have reliable cars and in all honesty, that is a blessing. Being reliable, whether it be from friends or vehicles, is so important. That’s been oh so much more important that normal living in a small, desert town by myself. It’s me and my car and that’s okay.