A sad goodbye

I’ve said goodbye to Frieda today and it makes me so sad. I know you’re probably thinking “It was just a car; what’s the big deal?” but she was a very special car to me and saying goodbye is just another reminder of how much my world has changed – for better and for worse – since she first came into my life more than a decade ago.

Our last drive saw me returning her to the homeland where we first met. I can’t believe how sad it was driving her back home after all of these years. But we listened to her favorite band, Styx, along the four-hour journey and reminisced about the good ol’ days and all the fun we had together. And I cried like a little baby.

I was nearly 25 when I decided it was time to go to university. I applied – and was accepted – to Central Washington University for winter 1999. Classes were to begin January 6 but I didn’t have a car to get me to campus nearly 30 miles away. On December 29, 1998, my brother-in-law, Mark, took me to Ellensburg to find a car. With my limited budget, I knew I would never find the car I really wanted, but I certainly didn’t expect to end up with a used blue Geo Metro. However, that was the car Mark felt was the best deal for the money. I was upset and couldn’t hide my disappointment. I said I needed a day to think about it and we decided we’d go back down the following day when I finished work.

The next day, just as I was getting ready to leave work, a regular customer came in to purchase a lottery ticket and asked why I looked so gloomy if I was just about to leave work for the day. I explained my Geo Metro-enhanced woes to him and he then asked what kind of car I really wanted. And I told him. Then he said he had one in his driveway that he was planning to sell in the spring. I asked how much and was sad to hear it was nearly double my budget. But he called his wife, explained the situation, and within the hour I was looking at the car.

I excitedly called Mark to tell him what happened. Much to his shock the car was in fantastic shape. So we made a deal that saw me getting the car I really wanted at nearly half of its value!

A second-generation 1987 Honda CRX-Si, my lovely little red two-seater friend had a five-speed transmission and a sunroof. She got 37 miles to the gallon and ran like a dream! My friend Roach (yes, really) installed a rockin’ stereo system with Pioneer speakers – perfect for listening to ’70s and ’80s rock-n-roll. I used her to commute to-and-from school and later for work, leaving her in my parents’ care when I was overseas.

Over the years and the thousands of miles we drove together, she became run down and worn out. I’d mentioned to Paul that maybe it was time I said goodbye, but he was adamant that I keep her and that we’d just spend the money to get her back in shape. He knew how much I loved Frieda and really was quite happy for me to keep her forever, even though that meant we’d need a third car so that we both had cars for transporting kids. (We were actively seeking a new(ish) Outback Sport for that purpose before he died.)

As hard as it is to say goodbye, especially knowing that Paul had wanted me to keep her, I know this is for the best. I think that under the circumstances Paul would understand.

Frieda is going to a wonderful home where she will be well cared for. Her new family will fix her up and give her the love and attention she deserves. The money from the sale will go into savings for my graduate school tuition (a very paltry addition, but those pennies will add up over time). I suppose it’s fitting that saying “hello” to Frieda helped me accomplish my goals of an undergraduate degree, and now saying “goodbye” is helping to get me a little closer to my postgraduate degree.

Goodbye, my friend. I will never forget you. And I promise to let your new owners know that you prefer classic rock-n-roll…

NOTE1: It was always said that when/if I ever did get rid of my little sports car, I could purchase a “grown up” sports car to make up for it (finances depending). My next sports car purchase (I hope) will be a red ’61 or ’63 Corvette if I’m living in America or a green ’61 MG if I’m back in the UK.

NOTE2: Shortly before publishing this story, I happened upon the blog of an old friend from high school (well, obviously not ‘old’ since we’re the same age) and noticed that she, too, recently said goodbye to a dear friend.

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4 thoughts on “A sad goodbye

  1. Aw, I’m sure Paul would understand. And you definitely have to get yourself one of those cool classic sports cars you mentioned – then he’d be happy for you I’m sure. 🙂

    I can absolutely relate. When my ultra cute Acura Integra died, I cried because John and I had gotten engaged in her. Then I cried harder when I realized I’d be driving an old Nissan Altima (read: boringmomsedan) hand-me-down.

    I’m curious, how did she get the name Frieda?

    • Thanks, Corinne! Isn’t it crazy how attached we can get to our cars? But they really are part of so many of our memories!

      Frieda is short for “Freedom” because that’s what she symbolized to me. Before going to school I was barely able to feed myself – let alone pay utility bills. (Thankfully, I lived rent-free in my parents’ home whilst they were living away from town for a few years.)

      In my small, rural town, there was little chance for a woman to support herself alone but I didn’t want to “have to” get a boyfriend or husband just to survive, which meant I needed a drastic life change and an education seemed like the only way out. The nearest university was 30 miles away, and Frieda gave me the freedom to attend school (whilst working full-time) so that I could pursue a better life for myself.

      I know it’s silly because any reliable car would have gotten me to school – but it was this reliable car, so she wins my affections!

  2. Oh Frances, I totally get it! I’m sitting here all weepy eyed for you, and for myself thinking about our little minivan. Things we owned during times of happiness, or major growth or found independance seem to absorb those emotions and become an extension of us. So of course it’s hard to say goodbye because it feels like we’re saying good bye to a part of ourselves and closing a chapter in our lives. Yikes, all of that over a car.

    You know, we drive through Cle Elum a lot on the way to Jeff’s parent’s house in Ellensburg, and it never ceases to amaze me that we all grew up there. I take my kids to Lake Cle Elum now and show them my old houses and I tell them how great it was to live there. Which is funny since I couldn’t wait to get out of there, but now I get all nostalgic and realize how great a small town can be.

    Anyway…I’ve been enjoying reading all of your posts, laughing, and crying, over the things you’ve written. It’s been nice catching up and “seeing” you again.

    • Amy, I had to laugh when I read your blog just before posting about Frieda! I felt a little less silly crying when I knew I wasn’t alone in emotional attachments to cars!

      It is funny to think how much has changed since leaving Cle Elum. I was so excited to leave but I do enjoy going back to visit. But only to visit!

      You’ll have to let me know when you’re coming through sometime – maybe we can meet for a cup of coffee at the ‘old Fairway’ or something!

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