Eight years ago my life took a pretty drastic turn. Still fresh off a divorce I was living alone in a house I couldn't sell waiting for it to go up for auction. My beautiful overpriced truck 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 an affordable neighborhood 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 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback. I was humiliated.
"All I need is a bumper sticker collection and a slobbery dog 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 90s 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 beater 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 torn 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. A new one from every spot our travels took us. And soon the back window became a collage of memories.
Then I got the dog. 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 our favorite songs.
I'll never forget our magical trip 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 canyon. 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 a bar appeared 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 3G 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. 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 almost three years ago, she took 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 repre'sent what's happening on the inside. She taught me self-love.
It was ultimately time to move on. 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.
…I drove my new 2018 Subaru Crosstrek off the lot with tears of joy in my eyes. Subie II, as I dubbed her, represented a new life. A new chapter. She was strong just like the original. But she had sparkle. Just like her owner. A sparkle that inevitably ended up scratched and covered in mud and dirt. Which only makes her more beautiful.
The memories we’ve already made together aren't something I could have ever dreamed of or put into words. Every day is an adventure full of life and self-discovery and growth. With the help of my Subaru, the world is up for grabs. And together we're going to explore every single inch of it.