Ten years ago, today, was a very important day for me, as it is in any teenager’s path into manhood. Ten years ago, today, I was given the gift of freedom and adventure with the ability to follow either on a whim. Ten years ago, today, I brought home my first car. I went through many things with that car, and after all of this time it’s still with me. It was more than just my first car – it’s been my only car.
By the beginning of 1999, the time had come for me to get my first car. I was attending a Christian high school in Costa Mesa, so having my parents drive me from our house in Laguna Hills made this purchase all the more imperative. I mean, how hip is it to get dropped off at school by your mommy? It was about more than being cool, though – I never was anyways. That’s the point in life when the need for personal freedom is surging through a teenager’s body, and so with my newly acquired driver’s license in hand I started to shop. I remember one of the first cars I looked at was a dark green Accord or Taurus (don’t remember which, exactly). My favorite color is green, and that little fella was a contender for sure. For one reason or another, however, I ended up behind the wheel of a 1995 Honda Civic. Many kids tend to go for something sleek and fast, but I’ve always been more practical – and I thought a 4-door sedan would be more useful in carrying around friends or other things. So, after a little negotiating, I drove that Civic home as my own on March 5, 1999.
I’m sorry to say that I don’t have a full body shot of the car from back then, but if you know me – you most likely know what the back-end of my car looks like ;-). Here’s me and the dog, probably the day after I bought the car. We had a Wendy’s right outside of our neighborhood, that I used to drive myself to quiet often. I’d usually take Katie with me and share my fries as we drove home – this is pretty much how it looked to whoever was in the drive-thru during our visit (minus the glasses).
I drove that car everywhere. I had friends in Newport Beach and Costa Mesa, so I put miles and miles on that thing every weekend when I went to see them. I also used to take the 73 toll road, to school and to see my friends, and I have seen some beautiful sights: morning fog filling in the valley below, city lights illuminating the night sky. Heck, I even saw a mangled moose carcass once (Yes… a MOOSE. I’m assuming it was a hunter’s swag that fell off the truck). Like the little engine that could, my car would push itself up the hills, and fly down the other side. In the midst of teenage angst, I remember reaching 115 mph down a hill once. Haha, of course, my poor little car was ready to collapse at that speed – the whole thing was shaking all over the place. Speaking of teenage angst, the closest I’ve ever come to suicide was in that car. Life had me down, and as I drove home from school I nearly plowed my car right into the cement pillar of an overpass.
My car came with a cassette deck, but the day before prom, I decided to change that. I went with my friend Joe to one of the many auto shops in Santa Ana and had a whole new sound system put in – CD player included. I didn’t drive to prom, itself, so I can’t remember exactly why that was the day… but I remember it regardless. Oh, look… aren’t I so cute, headed off to prom.
Time went on, and my car and I had more adventures. Imagine what your life was like ten years ago, and how much you’ve done since then. This hunk of metal is a boatload of memories for me. I remember driving up to Santa Barbara with my friend Sarah to see my friend Joe at Westmont college. I remember getting lost in Los Angeles on the ride home from Westmont, and playing U2’s Mysterious Ways as our anthem for finding a way home. I remember being pulled over by a cop at midnight in a Newport neighborhood for not coming to a complete stop at a 4-way. I remember college and Blockbuster, love interests and friends. I remember my life through this car, and if I could, I’d list everything here – but I can’t. Pictures are rare, though, so I have to share two more things specifically.
In my original Blockbuster days, while working with Nick and Ruthie, I was presented with a mockery gift. Regarding the joke that I had no friends, the two of them had decorated a broom as my friend: a face and hands drawn on paper and attached to the broom, and a note that read “Hi! I’m Mark’s friend!” Of course, being the nut that I am, I promptly took that face and sign and put them onto the passenger seat of my car – where they remained for months. In fact, that face is still sitting in the trunk of my car, and it brings me a smile anytime I go in there.
Finally, I have to express great love for my bee. Have you not heard about my bee? Oh, well, let me tell you the story. I can’t remember exactly when (maybe 2003), but I discovered that a bee had flown into my car, and died in the back below the window. I left the bee as it was, and as time went on, it began to decay. For years, now, that bee has remained exactly as it was – a very interesting display. I’m always certain to protect it when I clean my car, and here is how it looks today.
I could go on for hours about the many adventures I’ve had with my car, and that is simply because it has been with me through what is most likely the most interesting ten years of a person’s life. I’ve been through ups and downs, and many of them have involved that car. I have considered suicide, I have picked up a date. I have had my car broken into, I have driven a homeless woman and her dog to shelter during a rainstorm (both funny stories, if you’d ever like to hear them). I have danced and sung to great songs on the car stereo, I have cried over the loss of my dog. There is more to my life than a person’s car, and I am far from an auto fanatic, but for our ten years together, I can only say one thing:
I love my car 🙂