16 November 2019



things I thought about as the tow truck pulled our totaled car away forever this past week:

I thought about just how much life that car had seen

how it had faithfully carried us up and down so many favorite portland and atlanta streets

and back and forth to our beloved oregon coast, our manzanita, our shorty's, and then up and down stretches of the 101 too many times to count

and down I-5 to friends in san francisco and unexpected adventures in northern california along the way

and then how many times we packed it with pillows and blankets and popcorn and candy to take the kids to the drive-in, both the newberg 99w in oregon and the old starlight here in atlanta

I thought about the last day we drove it in portland, down 64th avenue one last time, the street where we lived for seven years, and along the sacramento ridge, past the view of mount hood, and down sandy boulevard across the burnside bridge, past the old portland sign one last time, and to powells books and the photobooth at the ace one last time, and then across all the bridges we loved-- the broadway, the fremont, st. johns, the hawthorne one last time before we finally pulled out of the city and watched portland grow smaller and smaller in the rearview mirror

I thought about how it carried us all the way across the country, through nine different states, from portland, oregon back home to atlanta, georgia

how we drove it to the the top of snowy crater lake that june in 2014, and through the winding roads of the redwood forest, down the miraculous avenue of the giants and slowly through every drive-through tree we could find

and how we drove it across the golden gate bridge one last time, and down 24th and valencia streets in the mission and up the narrow streets of chinatown

and then through palm springs, out to the edge of town where we parked it between the windmills and the train tracks and went treasure hunting

and then past the salton sea to salvation mountain, where the dashboard temps read 120, where it was so hot we could only stand to be outside the car for five minutes at a time 

and then to the grand canyon at magic hour, and through the legendary monument valley and the four corners, and down a street in holbrook, arizona actually named bucket of blood, and all along historic route 66, where we stopped a kajillion times to take pictures of old motels

I thought about how we built a tower of coolers and books between the kids on the trip so they wouldn't fight

I thought about how we pulled the car over the minute we finally crossed the georgia state line and took photographs of the kids jumping up and down in front of the state sign

I thought about how this car carried ward and I down to new orleans to celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary and then, miraculously, back down again to celebrate our twenty-fifth

and how we drove it down to savannah, georgia so many times, how it felt to be back beneath all that hanging spanish moss, and out to tybee island, where ward and I took our very first road trip back in 1990

and down to florida five summers in a row, over the long bridge to sanibel island, where we often pulled over to watch fiery skies fade to pink

and to the north georgia mountains to see the leaves change, to see the falls, to bring home pumpkins to carve

I thought about how we have filled it and stuffed it with suitcases and pool floats backpacks and art supplies and my very favorite beach blanket and camping chairs and picnic baskets and thrift hauls and furniture salvaged from the side of the road and buckets of fresh-picked strawberries and blackberries and baskets of peaches and how many christmas trees we've lovingly selected and then crossed our fingers and strapped to the top of it

I thought about how many times we've hauled the kids back and forth to school in it, how many conversations we've had about classes and too much homework and good teachers and bad teachers and good test grades and bad test grades and shenanigans and projects and friends and enemies and bad days and good days 

I thought about the time I picked ava up from prom, how she had such a horrible time she burst into tears the minute she opened the car door, how my heart broke while she cried all the way home and poured her story out between sobs

I thought about the time I took her to the emergency room at 5:30 in the morning, how I gripped the steering wheel and prayed so hard for everything to be okay

I thought about how it was the very first car ava learned to drive, and how ezra will learn in a completely different, yet unknown, family car

I thought about how it held remnants of spilled ice cream cones and spilled coffee and cookie crumbs and collected rocks and bits and pieces of other collected things and loose change and candy wrappers and forgotten seashells and ketchup packets and bobby pins and travel games and old receipts and broken umbrellas and flashlights that still need batteries and at least a dozen stickers from trips to the high museum of art and sand, no matter how many times we cleaned it out, sand

and I thought about how many arguments it had seen, how many times I'd cried in it and laughed in it and sang really loud in it and softly to myself in it, and fell asleep on the way home in it and read books in it and got lost, got stuck in traffic in it, and how many times I'd crammed my feet up on its dash, how many times I told ward he was driving too fast or that he'd taken the wrong way and how many times we kissed in it, pulled over for a mcdonalds coke in it or for shakes and tater tots from sonic or how many times we pulled over for something that looked interesting, or how many times I made ward pull over so I could cut some wildflowers growing alongside the highway, how many times I'd taken photographs of the sunset in my rearview mirror, or of myself in the rearview mirror, how many times we'd rolled the windows down to let our hands ride the wind while we drove to wherever it was we were going

I mean, I know. it's just a car. but, still. my heart seized up a little. 


  1. Such a beautiful tribute to the heartbreaking, lovely moments of life. I love your writing. That you record these things are so lovely. Hugs to you.

    1. thank you, thank you so much-- seemed a little crazy to be writing so passionately about a car (but then, I wasn't really writing about a car, I guess). thanks for reading, for taking the time to share kind words with me. xo

  2. Love how words form the pictures. Stills of a life in motion. I feel attached to my old gal Tallulah of 20 years. Devotion keeps me from upgrading. Am sorry yours is no longer with you but boy did you give it a full and rich adventure while it carried you to and fro. As an aside I am so grateful you are still here in this corner of the interwebs. Have been quietly reading for many, many years as there is so much life here. I always leave inspired, present and hopeful. Thank you for that. Truly!

    1. thank you-- for reading here (for reading for so many years), for sharing kindness with me here. tallulah! she sounds like a beaut. honored that you find inspiration here, humbled and honored. xo

  3. It's posts of yours like this that make me dream of reading a book written by you, fiction or non, i don't care. The world needs your writing. It is so tangible and poetic and deeply human. I see my own life in your words and you remind me to be deeply grateful of the little moments.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful ode to your car. Oh what magical moments it lived with you. The talk of Portland makes me want to squeeze you. You are missed, dear friend. I can't wait until I can squeeze you again someday.

    I must admit, I forgot you were doing this project but I'm so glad you kept it up. Now I get to go back and catch up and savor them all. thank yoU!

    I'm so sorry to hear about this car accident. I'm glad you are all ok! My dad had an accident too recently, on thanksgiving. His car flipped completely but he is magically fine, practically unharmed. Grateful for airbags... did you know they have a knee airbag now? I'm still in awe of that!

  4. vanessa! hello! hello friend! miss you and pdx, always. always. we talk about our time in portland so much-- we dream about coming back all the time. if I didn't have family here in atlanta, we'd still be there. (I often wonder what our life would look like if we'd never left)

    grateful we're all okay. sadly, ward hit a deer-- in the middle of the day and in a very populated area, so strange. hit him hard enough to total the car. could have been much worse, though. so glad to hear your dad is okay!

    thank you for your kind words-- thank you, thank you, thank you. they mean so very much to me. xx