Four-wheeled farewellAstoria, OR; Tacoma, WA; and others

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

If you’ve been reading here for awhile, you’ve seen this picture before—and others like it. My car, Wild Blue, has made many appearances here over the years, because she’s as much a character in my stories as any place I’ve visited.

Sketch by Chandler O'Leary

In fact, she’s sometimes the star—though even when she isn’t, she’s never far from my mind.

Mt. Rainier letterpress print by Chandler O'Leary

She’s even made some cameos in my studio work.

Map sketch by Chandler O'Leary

She was the first and only car I’ve ever owned (thanks to years of living in dense cities, I didn’t need to buy one until my mid-twenties), and she took me nearly everywhere. I always thought I’d drive her to the moon, but it doesn’t matter that we fell a little short. She was the beating heart of my adventures, each highway another artery feeding our little love story.

Yet all stories have to end. Back in February I was gearing up for another big solo trip—a doozy this time, with 6500 miles of mostly remote mountain and desert roads. Blue already had many costly age-related repairs coming due, and I didn’t think she had another trip like that in her. So we took one last winding local drive together, and then I put her out to pasture.

Goodbye, Blue. Hello, Silver.

Car sketch by Chandler O'Leary

This new gal and I have had plenty of time to get acquainted—after all, she got well and truly broken in this spring with that big trip (more on that next time). And she’s the first car the Tailor and I have bought together, as we want to remain a one-car household. We had to make little compromises over what we each wanted, of course, but the biggest one was the compromise I had to make with the auto industry: I had to give up my stick shift. We really wanted this model, and a manual transmission simply isn’t an option anymore for this one.

For all I had to give up, and for all the frills and furbelows that seem to accompany all new cars (though I’ll admit I love having USB ports at last)—this car has plenty of qualities that fit my personality. No GPS, for one thing—you all know how I feel about that (the Tailor and I agreed that if that had come standard, we would have paid to have it removed!). And plenty of nooks and crannies for holding all my paints and things while I sketch.

Yet while Silver is pretty and sleek and reliable and powerful, she’s not my Blue. I’ve already put close to 10,000 miles on her, but I’m still finding it hard to make the transition. Driving an automatic feels so different to me, so less engaged. And I have a lot of trouble finding her in crowded parking lots—I’m usually great at remembering where the heck I parked, but finding a silver Subaru in a sea of other silver Subarus (welcome to the Northwest) is hilariously difficult. Still, I’m sure we’ll grow to know and trust each other over time. It’s just hard to give up your first love.

Astoria sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Thank you, Wild Blue, for taking me here, there and back again—and for always keeping me safe along the way.

Astoria sketch by Chandler O'Leary

Here’s to the next quarter of a million miles, and my shiny new steed. Hi ho, Silver.

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Comments (5)

  1. Adrian O'Leary

    So well said, I found myself getting verklempt. It seems silly to get sentimental over a hunk of metal & plastic. However it’s all in what experiences you have with it. I remember sobbing over Dad’s B2000 going away because I saw a part of my childhood leaving. I had a similar place in my heart for my truck and if a hit & run driver hadn’t killed it I’d still have it and might just have made it to the moon. C’est la vie.

  2. Servetus

    I hope you will have many more happy journeys together. My nostalgia is all for cars I drove as a teenager. The ones I’ve owned as an adult have been boring (although I love my automatic 🙂 ).

  3. Steve Gilzow

    Glad to see you’re back! You’ve been missed.

    Cars occupy a unique place in our pantheon of owned objects. Shelter, privacy, means of adventure; there’s nothing else quite like them. I remember coming out of the first Star Wars movie in the 1970s, opening the door of our VW Beetle, and sensing its alive personality — a cousin of R2D2. Her name was Skraps and her standard transmission could be shifted without benefit of the clutch once you understood the particular, precise sound of the RPMs.

  4. Tina Koyama

    Awww… I know the feeling! I’ve got 20+ years on my Miata and she’s still going strong, but one day I’ll have to give her up — and the next car probably won’t be a convertible. I get teary just thinking about it. By the way, my husband has had 2 Subarus, and he loves them! Very reliable and sturdy.

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