Monday, June 27, 2016

Moon Car

I love my car.

The black Volvo S40 that I lovingly refer to as "The Legend" joined our family eleven years ago. After we drove it home for the first time, the odometer displayed a dozen or so miles, which measured the distance from the dealership to our home. A pristine, beautiful, Swedish (well, kinda, with the exception of FoMoCo's under-the-hood meddling) thing. Flawless. Lustrous. Immaculate. All those tight adjectives applied, for The Legend was born in the summer of 2005.

Fast forward to 2016, and The Legend is still with us. But all of those youthful descriptors have been voided, the victims of time, weather, circumstance, and use. From a distance, it's the same small sedan as it ever was. But get closer, and you'll see what it's become.

The Legend is a mechanically functioning ghost of its former self. The radio works, but not the CD changer. Some speakers work, most do not. The power seat is powerless, stoic in its semi-reclined pose. (Luckily, it froze in an agreeable position for me.) The ceiling upholstery droops and sags, which is why I fired a few dozen staples upwards to delay the inevitable. And yesterday, after years of protracted wilting, the ceiling upholstery was unceremoniously ripped from the interior by your humble correspondent in a moment of clarity and/or rage. The trunk lid's light melted years ago. Don't ask. The glove compartment lock is broken, which created a time capsule of the late 2000s that will never be opened. Melted hard candies add muted color to an otherwise dreary gray back seat. The air conditioning taunts the car's occupants by secretly replacing cooled air with humid, warm air. Combined with a leaking moon roof, the devious AC creates a mobile rainforest in the interior of The Legend, an environment which is ideal for insects and certain fungal organisms that pose respiratory hazards for, well, humans.

Oh, and sometimes water shoots out of the floor vents.

Sic Transit Gloria

For a brief moment yesterday, I was ready to get rid of this car. The ensuing cascade of emotion started with anger, evolved into curiosity and excitement, morphed into resentment and disbelief, and finally settled for resignation. Kinda like this (warning, bad words ahead):

Fuck this car.
Ooo, it's time for a new car!
Fuck this, I don't want a new car.
It's fine. It's fine. I'll deal with it. It's fine.
Fuck it.

The Legend's glory faded long ago. The odometer currently indicates that the Legend has logged enough miles to get to the moon (at least when the moon is at its closest to the Earth, which is 225,623 miles). The Legend is the Moon Car. And it's got the Heritage Club emblems to prove it.


The problem with this car is that it's still working. It starts up every morning when I need to go to work. It starts up every evening when I want to go home. It doesn't complain. It just keeps running. Its primary function, transport, is reliably satisfied at every opportunity. Secondary functions, originally as reliable, are now just visiting, temporal pleasantries. But to say goodbye to this car now would be like burying your thirteen year-old cat while he still enjoys long naps in the summer sunshine. It's a grotesque thought that should make you recoil, not quicken your pulse with anticipation.

And so, The Legend lives on. Uncountable miles await ahead, laid out on familiar and unfamiliar roads. It keeps running. It keeps running. It keeps running.