When your car becomes a teenager…

My family got our first Subaru in 1986. It was also the first new car that parents ever bought. My mom loved it because it started every time you put the key in the ignition (a rarity for the first 10 of my parents’ marriage and joint car ownership years). It had a manual transmission, no 4-wheel drive and was tan and boxy and we all loved it. When we moved from LA to Portland in 1988, it was the car that took us on the two-day journey, up the coast, through mountains and to the doorstep of our closest family friends’ house, where we stayed until our house in Laurelhurst was ready for occupancy.

When I was 9 years old, I was playing at my across-the-street neighbor’s (Yumi) house and we got on the subject of what car we wanted when we were old enough to drive. She wanted a red sports car (she was always flashier than I was). I stated with conviction that I wanted a Subaru, like my mom’s, because it was sensible and you could carry extra stuff around if you needed to. She rolled her eyes at me and the conversation moved on.

My Subaru loyalty stayed true through the sad destruction of our little tan wagon in a 4 car pile-up on the Sunset Highway in 1992 (my mom was in the car and was able to walk away unscathed. The accident was so intense that the toolkit in the back melted into the metal of the car).

When I turned sixteen, my parents started talking about getting me a car so they wouldn’t have to drive me around anymore(I was a pretty darn lucky kid). I wanted a Subaru, what I got was a 1986 Ford Tempo. When the Tempo proved to be a train wreck of a car, my dad sold it, and got me my very first Subaru. It was a grey 1989 sedan. While not a wagon, it did me just fine for the next couple of years. During this time, I convinced my dad that the older Subaru was the way to go. He bought a red 1988 wagon, which later became mine as well. There was a period of time when I had the red wagon, my sister had a white one and my dad had a blue one, you’d think we were patriotic or something.

When I moved to Philly I sold my red wagon to my sister’s best friend’s boyfriend. He isn’t Meredith’s boyfriend anymore, but Sean took that car with him to Colorado and still drives it to this day, 3+ years later.

I was carless for my first year and a half in the City of Brotherly Love, but when I got my current a job, a car became a necessity and I started looking. I felt frustrated and discouraged, there wasn’t anything out there that seemed reliable and cheap. The car I had in my head was a Legacy wagon like the one our NW Portland neighbor’s daughter had had, the one I wanted when I was 16. I started praying for the universe to send me a car that was safe, cheap and reliable (some may say crazy, but I say, what’s wrong asking for a little help with something that you rely on to keep you safe?). Then I found it. A women in my neighborhood was selling a 1992 green Subaru Legacy wagon with just over 100,000 miles, the car of my dreams. She was the original owner and had taken really good care of this car, at one point replaced the sun visors in her diligence to maintain it’s integrity.

So I got the Subaru of my dreams, eight years later. The problem with getting your dream car after it’s entered it’s second decade of life is that it has already started getting a little persnickity. This year my car turned 13 and has started showing signs of teenage rebellion. It smells funky, dresses funny (okay I admit, I like to dress it up with liberal bumperstickers) and it’s voice is starting to change. But like any devoted parent, I would never give up on my car, just because it is acting out. I plan on sticking with this car and hopefully I’ll see it through to adulthood, just like it’s seeing me.

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