While I’ve only ever had one car, I can already tell there’s nothing like a first car. What a car meant to be growing up was freedom, and that’s exactly what my first and only car still represents to me. His name is Oliver.
Oliver is a 2008, 4-door Mercedes C 350, similar to the one your read about previously. He’s silver, sports a mean grin, and has an attitude that matches my own in almost every way. He has some electrical glitches from time to time, mirrors don’t fold in, windows operate irregularly, and there is a french fry between the seats that I’ve never quite been able to reach with the vacuum, but he was one of the first big things I’ve been given the responsibility to call mine. He’s never been to a car wash. Once a week I fill a bucket with soap and water and douse him myself, making sure every speck is removed from his finish. I’ve always put a lot of pride in him, making sure that his appearance is a reflection of myself.
Most of the things I’ve been through since I turned 16, Oliver has experienced with me. Finishing high school, my last summer with my childhood buddies, surfing trips, road trips, college adventures, trips home, dates, boyfriends, surprises, the happiest of times, and the saddest of moments. A lot of people look at cars and see dollar signs, status symbols, and manifestations of wealth or a lack there of, but regardless of how old Oliver gets, or the his serpentine belt in the front engine compartment that squeaks after a period of time without service, or his quirks, he is a manifestation of one thing, and one thing only: growing up. The memories I have with Oliver are the things that make me cringe when I think of selling him.
Society tells us cars represent wealth. I’m telling you that cars are machines that cost money, but we make relationships with them that can’t be replicated. Oliver isn’t just a car to me, he’s a physical representation of the memories I can’t hold in my hand.