Five years ago my life took a pretty drastic turn. Still fresh off a divorce I was living alone in a house we couldn't sell waiting for it to go up for auction. My beautiful Tundra sat in the driveway waiting for repossession. I had lost my job. My husband. My pride. My sparkle.
I found a small one-bedroom apartment in a neighborhood I loved and waved goodbye to the memories of that house, determined to start a new chapter. I found a new job back in radio and slowly started to rebuild the foundation of my crumbled life.
I'll never forget the day my dad drove up in that old Subaru. I was horrified.
"All I need is a co-exist sticker and a golden retriever and I'll be set," I said with a salty sharpness on my tongue. How does a person go from a brand new, beautiful truck to a 1999 station wagon? How did I get here? But I had no other options. I couldn't afford a new car payment or the insurance to cover it. This old girl was going to have to do.
It was a love/hate relationship from the start. As time went on that teal Outback became my home on wheels. We road tripped together and bonded, then she'd break down or get a flat tire and my irritation in her would grow once again.
Funny thing was, that old car represented me in ways I never realized until now. She was pretty beat up, but she was so incredibly strong. Every time she took a hit she came back with more gusto than she had before. Just like me.
Then the stickers started appearing. No, I never did get that co-exist sticker. But I did get one from every spot our travels took us. And soon the back window became a collage of memories.
Then I got the dog. No, she wasn't a golden retriever. But my little chiweenie loved that Subaru with all her heart. Nose prints on every window, muddy paw prints on the seats. And I loved nothing more than seeing her ears flap in the wind as she lifted her nose and we sang along to Amos Lee's Windows are Rolled Down.
I'll never forget our magical trip to Chelan to stay in a hobbit house on a hillside. The old girl got us there safely for a once-in-a-lifetime experience I'll cherish forever. Getting home, however, was another story. She kept overheating as we slowly climbed a winding road out of the Orondo valley. I was prepared, gallons of water stored in the back just in case. We made it to the top but I could tell she was exhausted. I had no phone service. So I had one option. Gun it until I did and hope she didn't blow on me.
We made it to the intersection of grain silo and forgotten highway and slowed to a halt. One bar of service allowed me to call for roadside assistance and we settled in for what would be a three-hour wait in the burning hot sun. My pup and I sang songs while sitting on an old rug and eating spaghetti-oh's out of a can with a wrench. I leaned my back against the old Subie and let the heat of her metal burn the backs of my arms. I loved her. I loved the moment we were living in. She made life an adventure. Not always the most conventional way of living, but we were living nonetheless. And I wanted nothing more than for her to be okay.
When I got her home a decision had to be made. Invest more money than she was worth to fix her head gasket or say goodbye. I wasn't ready for the latter. So my baby had surgery and got her insides fixed up all shiny and new.
It was that trip that I became attached to that old car. And the hate faded from our love/hate relationship. I talked to her. Stroked her dashboard and told her she was a good girl. And for another year and a half she kept me and my pup safe and got us where we needed to go. Mountains, trails, oceans, forests, cabins, treehouses, and more memories than I can put into words.
I spent miles and hours and days inside of that car learning about myself. Growing. Changing. Getting older and wiser.
And on my birthday, she breathed her last breath. It was as if she knew I didn't need her anymore. She'd came and did what she was meant to do. And she had succeeded. She had humbled me. Taught me patience and gratitude. Because of Subie, I learned how to stop caring what everyone else thought. That how things look on the outside don't always represent what's happening on the inside. She taught me self love.
And it was time to move on.
The day after she died, my dad drove to town to assist me once again. This time though, I was ready. I had upgraded my life...it was time to upgrade the wheels that were going to get me through it.
I needed dependability. I needed adventure. I needed something my pup approved of.
And I drove my new Subaru Crosstrek off the lot with tears of joy in my eyes. SubieTwo as I dubbed her, represents a new life. A new chapter. She's strong just like the original. But she's got sparkle. Just like her owner. A sparkle that inevitably will end up scratched and covered in mud and dirt. But all of that will only make her more beautiful.
The memories we plan on making together aren't even something I can dream up and put into words. The world is up for grabs. And together we're going to explore every single inch of it.
And another reason to love my new girl! PUPPY LOVE!