May 11th: I walked out to my car in a rush. My doctor had told me to come in that day and I wasn’t sure what time the clinic closed on Saturdays. I settled into my seat and turned the key. Instant relaxation spread over my tired, weak body. My kidneys, bladder, and ovaries were inflamed from infection, and while it was going away, I still felt like shit. But being in that seat, oh my God. That car was a comfort. Rap music flooded through my stereo as I looped her around and made my way up our old dirt driveway. It had been eight days of hell…
2004: My grandmother’s old Mercury was taking a shit on her, so she went to look at cars. She was going to pick up my mom, who had been reading up on the best and worst cars via consumer reports, and take her with her. Mom wanted her mother to have something safe and reliable. Something foreign. I was doing something outside when my grandmother pulled up. She was not in her Mercury on her way to the dealership, but on her way back in the 2002 Oldsmobile Intrigue she had just bought. “How do you like my new car?!” she chirped. I was not into modern cars but thought it to be quite pretty, with exotic looking headlights; unusual for an American car. Then mom came flying out of the house, “DID YOU BUY THIS?” She cussed the car up and down. “THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST RATED USED CARS EVER, MOM, WHY DID YOU BUY THIS PIECE OF SHIT?” I was amused at the drama and pleased my grandmother had bought something American instead of some ordinary Toyota. I was 13 years old.
2008: I was one year into my first job and my mother was tired of me using her (good, reliable, holier than thou) Honda CRV. I myself wanted my own car too, however I preferred vintage. Mom and I butted heads, but in the end I realized she was right. Buying a ‘70’s or ‘80’s Cadillac for an every-day driver was a poor idea. I realized I needed something more recent with low miles. Mom firmly told me it needed to be a Honda, but I still would not move from my choices of Oldsmobile or Cadillac. “THEY’RE PIECES OF SHIT.” I clammed up and balked, then started checking car ads for those makes of used cars.
I didn’t have to look far. My grandmother had been spending time with a wealthy gentleman, although they were both in their 80’s, and one day he took her to a car dealership and bought them both brand new Chevy Impalas. I was dumbfounded. Wait, was I going to get that Oldsmobile? Boom, in December of 2008 I came out one morning to the slender silver car sitting in the corner of our yard with brand new tags, in my name. Mom had even screwed on the new tags for me since I was spoiled, and there I had my Christmas present of 2008. Ironically mom and grandmother both gave me tons of things that Christmas. They both thought that being given an ill-tempered used car wasn’t that big of a deal, but I was ecstatic.
The car was in good superficial condition and had never broken down, but my grandmother never felt safe with it. It never needed any significant mechanical repairs but it would hiss, bump and growl while she was driving it. I found out later that it made a hissing noise as the fuel drained, but the rest was never figured out. My grandmother took the car to mechanics constantly but they all just scratched their heads. There was nothing wrong with that car, even though the engine dashboard light had been on almost since it had been purchased. The experts chalked that up to an electrical glitch, although none of them were able to make it go off.
2011: My luck had been terrible since 2010 when I hit a deer and got bronchitis, among other things. My car was all fresh and new with a salvage hood and other used parts and not giving me any trouble, but now I was getting merciless bladder infections. It was April or May when I got my first bladder infection ever, and by June I was rotting in hell. I was in the emergency clinic every week after my infection would become immune to the antibiotic I would be taking at the time. And all through this, I was the only supervisor at my store, we were busy as hell, and I couldn’t catch a break. My only solace was my car, and knowing that it would be waiting for me after more bad news and countless injections that left scar tissue and bruising in my buttocks.
My family and friends were kind to me through my hard times, but all they could really do was worry. I did enough worrying for 100 people myself. Was I going to be like this the rest of my life? Finally after July the infections eased but I could not longer urinate normally. The answer was yes, I would not be the same again. But hey, at least I was rid of the infections. I was still in for a rough time after I got a new boss and she harassed us and stole. By the end of 2011 I was in charge of the store again and having problems with staff. The whole year pretty much sucked except for meeting my boyfriend Adam, who cheered me up greatly. Even my poor old car wasn’t having a great time, having needed brake repairs and having the horse bite her. Yep, the horse thought it would be a good idea to scratch her mouth on my car. Needless to say I wasn’t very friendly to the old Arabian after that, and having to repair the damage with my crappy puttying/primer/paint skills. But, I got through the year with no major damage to the car, which made me happy. However, the same could not be said about me.
2012: The months after my terrible infections carried on into 2012. I did not have to go to see my doctor except to get my ovarian cyst treated. I was in charge of the store alone still, which sucked, but I had Adam and things were alright otherwise. Then I was, I remember clear as day, standing out in the yard hosing my car when the need to urinate hit me. Only I knew I was fucked. I still had the burning pressure of a full bladder after I peed. The next day I headed straight to my doctor. Yep, an UTI. A week later: No, it’s not going to go away. It was April or so and that UTI and all its little bacterial friends carried on with me until the very day I write this blog. So, once again I was in hell, and realized I would probably need to be on antibiotics the rest of my life. My doctor put me on a preventative routine, a pill every day. That enabled me to urinate out infections as I got them, until after several months, when the infections would grow immune and I would have to switch pills. I was fucked, I had a NEW boss I didn’t get along with, and people were growing less supportive because they were tired of hearing me whine about being in pain. As Bart simply put it, “suffering and sickness makes people uncomfortable.” He was right.
2013: By February I had lost both my career job of more than 5 years, and the one I got after that, after a company took over my shopping center. My car had broken down on the road from an old factory defect at 10 at night, and I was in low spirits. Mom had her “told you so” moment and encouraged me to trade it in. I got it fixed and was back on the road, despite the fact that the same thing had happened in 2010, causing the car to shit in the middle of my driveway. However, those were the only breakdowns it had ever had, so I wasn’t going to call it a bad car. Hell, the old thing could still have that defect and stop in front of a tractor and trailer going 70 miles an hour and kill me tomorrow. But still not a bad car.
Long term antibiotic use was taking its toll on me. My tendons became stiff and weak and my skin became fragile in vulnerable areas. Open, flesh-revealing fissures appeared in horrible places, making anything taking place below my belly button painful. Tears opened up in my asshole making it a bloody and painful mess to use the bathroom. Health and functioning-wise, life was becoming quite unpleasant. But, I had my family, boyfriend, and of course, the jalopy, although unfortunately, my transmission was going up. The week starting April 29th I was forced to submit the car for a transmission rebuild. I balked at the idea of not having my car for a week, but I had to be a big girl and get over it. With my parents vacationing in Virginia and no nearby friends, I was confined to my yard with no one but my 89 year old grandmother for transportation. I did not want to bother her, and only asked once for some groceries. However, I was having trouble urinating out bacteria, was due for my monthly check-up, and seemed to need new pills. I had to cave and borrow my grandmother’s car on Wednesday, May 8th to go to the doctor. I was given an injection to my well scarred butt and some pills, and returned the car. I had been without my own for eight days. I resented having to take another car to the doctor, as I considered mine to be my object of support.
When I got home, I found out my car was finished at the shop, and proceeded to call my grandmother and what few friends I had to take me to get it. No luck, I would have to wait for my mom to come back from Virginia. Then Molly agreed to pick me up the following day at 9 AM. I went to bed excited.
…Then I woke up. It was 4 AM and I was shaking violently. I promptly called Molly, who was unable to pick me up until 9 because she wouldn’t have gas money until then. All I needed was that old car that I loved and everyone else hated. I didn’t want to distress my grandmother who couldn’t see to drive in the dark, and mom was 70 miles away. Finally I was forced to call her up in hysterics and make her drive all the way to get me. I was burning with fever and shuddering like I was in the Arctic. Mom arrived two hours later and rushed me to the clinic, where my doctor quickly diagnosed me with a kidney infection. More shots, more pills.
I spent the rest of the day weakly wandering around the house and yard babbling with feverish conversation. I was angry. I didn’t see anyone except for mom offering to help me. Molly, no gas money, I understand. But my lack of options I could not. Did I truly only have one friend I could call for help? Was everyone else just an ex or living in Europe? My car had been with me for five years. Where was everyone else?
The next day I was still feverish, shaky, and very weak, but I got in mom’s car and we drove to get mine. Being sick and pissing mass amounts of blood was not going to stop me from getting my partner in crime. We made our way to the town my car was in, making a rest stop along the way. I felt as if I could barely contain my bowels and urine. Finally we arrived, with me barely being able to write the check. Then, there she was. The repair shop owner drove my car out of a compound, its shine covered in pollen and bird shit. I was so happy I could have licked it all off with my tongue. I put her in drive, and took off for home. Pain traveled from my upper back to my bladder and my mind was fuzzy. The old car hissed and grunted, but the pedals were stiff from my newly rebuilt transmission. I felt sick as a dog but I was back! WE were back! The only thing that had changed was that the “SERVICE ENGINE SOON” light had gone off my dashboard for the first time in years. The only other time, it had come on again a few miles down the road after I had left the mechanic who reset it.
By Saturday morning I felt a lot better but was still fatigued and sore. I went to my doctor for a check-up and she told me that I was still bleeding heavily, and my kidneys were inflamed, but that I was infection free. Given my history I couldn’t take the negative bacteria for granted, but I felt a little more secure. What mattered is that I wasn’t dying. I went to my grandmother’s house where she was being given early Mother’s Day gifts and spent time with my family. We laughed, talked, and dad repaired a window for her. Then I went home. I still wasn’t comfortable or completely over the fever, but I was here, and I was in that car.
The car that had survived two deer, one transmission failure, one major factory defect, a tomato cage falling on it, one coworker threatening to fuck with it, a biting horse, my grandmother backing it into a post and closing her garage door on it, two hurricanes, Dread’s driving, barely having brakes, a crazy ex, and another ex threatening to “vandalize (the car) beyond repair.” I think we’re doing pretty good, and no matter what anyone says, if that car exploded into a trillion pieces tomorrow, that wouldn’t change the fact that I had loved it and would never forget my memories with it. With my health I can only worry so much about what my exes have to say. If they want to come and murder me or the car, that is their choice. However, I will be holding a shotgun when they take me down.
As I drove home that Saturday, listening to “Meg White” by Ray LaMontagne, I saw a flicker on my dashboard. In less than two days, that old engine light was back on. Maybe it’s the end of the world, the end of me, and the end of everything I know and love. Or maybe, that old car is just letting me know that she’s alive, happy, and loves me back (whilst plotting more mechanical glitches). Bless.