’97 Taurus

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All that remains of my first car, a turquoise ’97 Ford Taurus. Just found these but don’t need to keep them. That car and I had a world of memories before it tried to kill me one rainy morning on Binford Blvd. when the brakes gave out and I had to run a red light and veer into a grassy median where I eventually rolled to a stop.

Before that, though, we were cool. It had dents from various parking garage and mailbox mishaps. It had at least half a dozen stickers on the back at any given point. In the summer of ’97, I helped my mom pick it out at a dealership. We’d rented the same model for our epic family trip out west, and we liked it enough to buy it. It replaced the ’89 Dodge Shadow with soda stains on the ceiling. My sister and I had no idea how they got there, nope.

I drove it around the church parking lot at age 14 and took my driver’s test in it at 17. Shortly thereafter, I had to push it out of a huge mud/ice puddle alone during an ill-advised “off-roading” adventure in an abandoned part of the old airport property. I drove it out to Greencastle to move into my dorm. It went to my sister for a few years, but it eventually returned to me.

After graduation, I drove it halfway across the country to work for the Obama campaign. I discovered few drives are more mind-numbing than I-70 across western Kansas. In Denver, my friend Courtenay accidentally left a fish sandwich under a seat. A few weeks of summer heat later, it was discovered and promptly removed. She had a license but not much driving experience, so I coached her from the passenger seat. Some coworkers from NY borrowed my car to practice with and/or have sex in.

In the following years, I drove to a few jobs and carried out a few relationships in that Taurus. By the end, though, its age was showing. The steering was looser than ever. When I went to the tow yard to clean it out in late October 2012, I was struck by how decrepit it had become. As I took final photos, a girl my age noticed me. “Want me to take a photo of you with your car?” I felt silly, but she understood. She was saying goodbye to her car too.

(This originally appeared on my Instagram page, so I kept my writing within the 2200-character limit. What a great exercise! I had other details I wanted to add, but this kept me focused, streamlined, and precise.)

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