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Memories of a first car are recalled after fateful crash

Erika Schwartz, Staff Writer

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My brother totaled the first car I ever owned last week. And I cried.

It was a white 1994 Buick Century. Red interior. Her name was Bonita.

I was 16 when my parents bought me that car. I was in a vintage stage, wore tea dresses and oxfords all the time, hair in pin curls. Bonita was vintage. She was perfect.

My parents initially said I wouldn’t have to drive her to college. They thought she wouldn’t even be running by then. But, two years went by and she never left me stranded, still purred like a tiny white kitten.

Then my dad told me I had to drive her to college, a new car just wasn’t in our budget. My heart smiled. She and I had already covered so much ground, there was so much more of the earth to see.

Something went wonky with the muffler about two years into my undergraduate adventure and she started to roar. I was embarrassed. I think it’s time for Bonita to retire, I said. I moved on. Left her behind.

Jarod’s been driving her the same six miles to and from school that I used to travel ever since. He plays ESPN radio as loud as possible. Speeds. Kicks up gravel and dust. Right foot on the gas, heavy.

He was fiddling with the radio, trying to find the right station. The sun was blaring, dust was flying. He must have blinked. I don’t know. But I think he must have blinked.

I wonder if he saw the memories trapped in the air vents fly out when he crashed into the truck in front of him?

I wonder if he saw my first kiss after the homecoming game? Did he see my first speeding ticket? Hear Elvis blaring through the tape deck? Watch tears stream down my face as I moved away to college?

I drove down to the stretch of road where he lost control. I found the guts of my memories all over the place, their blood smeared across the gravel. Tried to gather them up and transplant them in to my new car. But they didn’t fit. The bones don’t line up, and the tendons are the wrong size. I don’t think they have the same blood type.

I wired them in wherever I could find space. It looks kind of funky, but that’s OK. Most of the things in my life look kind of funky anyway.

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Memories of a first car are recalled after fateful crash