My dad got a new car last week. I talked him into buying a MINI Countryman, which I was very excited about because I love my MINI Cooper. His MINI is nicer than mine now. It’s my dream car, but he’s got the heated seats, sunroof, automatic climate control and windshield wipers, paddle shifters…I’m not jealous, I just find it kind of ironic.
He traded in his old car, too. It was a 2005 Subaru Legacy. He got it when I was just starting high school, and I didn’t take the bus, so he drove me to school in it every morning. Actually, my dad’s been driving me to school on his way to work for most of my childhood. When I was really little he had a 1993 “Polynesian Green” Geo Prism that I called the “Daddy Work Car” because its only purpose was to shuttle him to and from work every weekday. This thing was a lurid neon teal color, and I knew every inch of it because I used to read the car manual over and over on the way to school. I had some weird hobbies as a child.
Anyway, when I got old enough to drive, the Subaru was essentially the Daddy Work Car 2.0. I would borrow it on nights and weekends to go hang out with my friends. When I went off to college, freshmen couldn’t have a car on campus, but parking was free on the weekends, or I’d fork out the ten bucks for a week pass and take the car when my dad was on a business trip.
About a month ago, one of my best friends from college was in town for the weekend and wanted to get drinks. I had bent a rim on a pothole and my parents were out of town, so I took my dad’s car. On my way from the same house I lived in during high school, to pick my friend up from the same house she lived in during high school, I flipped through the CDs still in the car and discovered a mix I made my sophomore year. It was nostalgic. Eight years later and it was just like another weekend in high school, except this time we’d actually be drinking. Then, before he took the car in for an appraisal, my dad cleaned out the backseat for what was apparently the first time in five years, because he found my freshman roommates college ID in the backseat. I don’t talk to her anymore because we had a falling out senior year, so I couldn’t text her a picture and laugh over how it had been there all along. Instead, I threw it away.
When Dad picked up the car, I met them at the dealer after work and parked next to the Subaru, out of habit. When he left, I walked back over to my car and noticed they’d taken the plates off the old one already. Aside from the University of Rochester and Notre Dame stickers on the back window, it was devoid of anything that differentiated the Daddy Work Car from just another 2005 “Atlantic Blue Pearl” Subaru Legacy. My mix CD had been ejected and tossed somewhere in the garage, probably. I would never drive it to visit a friend again, never ride to Wegmans with Dad in it again, never borrow it for the weekend and discover some long lost chunk of memory that suddenly threw me back to being a teenager. It was over. Forever.
The more I thought about it on the drive home, the weirder it got. I don’t really have fond memories of high school, aside from the times with friends that car suddenly represented. And now that car was gone forever. That time was really truly behind me. Instead of nostalgia, I felt a sort of reverse-nostalgia. I wanted to get rid of every other representation of high school I had at home. And I had quite a few, cause I’m kind of a memory pack rat. So when I got home, I cleaned. Not actual cleaning, my room is still a mess. Instead, I went to my bookshelf and dug out my prom pictures cd, and my 9th grade research paper, and the folder of crappy pictures I took in middle school when I was trying out for the yearbook. The garbage truck came today, so now they’re out at the landfill near my house getting rained on. And now this reverse-nostalgia feels pretty okay.