Throwback: Riding Around in Cars without Dads

Thursday, February 2, 2017

This post popped up in my Facebook memories the other day (ohhh, the many "memories" we wish we could forget, amirite?) and it still resonated with me, so I thought I'd repost it here. It's from my Tumblr blog I now use for inspo photos. Anywayyy, often years pass, and you still feel exactly the same, or remember exactly how you felt in that moment.

We don't have my CR-V anymore, and we do have a sexy Russian minx (okay, I think she's technically Japanese, but she looks like a vampy Russian spy) named Natasha my dad would love. My SUV life lives on. And so does he.

My dad got me my first CR-V to combat what we Idahoans called “The Highway of Death” which ran between Boise, ID, through McCall and up to Moscow, where I went to school at the University of Idaho. I had been driving my mom’s Chrysler Sebring. Convertible. In the winter. On black ice. On two lane highway. No guard rails.
The day after he bought me my first CR-V, I drove the HoD back to school, waving to him in the rearview mirror. He did not like that he had to buy a new car he couldn’t play with. So, each time he came to Moscow (my dad is from there and visited more often than the mandatory “Dad” or “Mom” weekends), I’d walk out of my sorority house to find him parked nearby, walking around the car, kicking its tires or cleaning the leaves from under the wipers. I once called him to reinforce how grateful I was for the car, said “I really love the rear windshield wiper.” He responded: “Are you keeping it clean? Leaves can get stuck in it and scratch the glass.”
I've said it before and I’ll say it again: my dad loved cars. It was one of our bonding things. He liked everything about them. I liked looking at, dreaming about and shopping for them. He liked all of the above + maintenance, washing, waxing and whatever else the male species can love about cars. They were a hobby and point of pride for him. Whenever he got bored, he would buy a new to him vehicle and spruce it up. He liked the human connection of a purchase - he’d buy only from people who had bought the car new, even if they'd purchased it 20 years prior. He did the same with our house in the Tri Cities, which was built in the 1950s and lived in by only one family before us.
So, after my first CR-V was crushed into the curb by a 19-year-old drug dealer after I had so excellently paralell parked it, I stood on the sidewalk in the spring rain at 11 p.m. and called him. “Dad, I have bad news,” I told him. “The car’s been totalled. I wasn’t in it, no one is hurt, but it’s been knocked off its frame and looks ugly. I’m really sorry.”
“I’ve had a lot of cars, bud, but I have only one Whitney,” he told me. “We’ll figure it out.” He was so amazingly calm in those situations. It was always about family instead of things for him. This would annoy me at the grocery store when he refused to buy me magazines from the check out line, but I appreciated it every time we spent weekends eating spaghetti and watching movies.
A week after my first CR-V was totalled, I flew to the Tri Cities, my dad picked me up at the airport and we bought a car. He’d already driven the lot and picked it out. It was one year newer than my previous CR-V. It had had one owner before us. It had butt warmers. It would keep me safe. It was perfect. I drove it home that weekend, waving to him in the rearview mirror.
He had already been diagnosed with cancer and was going through treatments at that point. Whenever he and my mom would come to Seattle for an appointment, he’d insist on driving the CR-V. Each time, he would pat the dash and say “Boy do I love this car.” I’d roll my eyes and offer to trade him, but he’d always refuse, saying, instead, he’d visit again soon and tinker with it.
So, when my second CR-V hit 60,000 miles last month and Raz mentioned we had to do or get some work done on it, I felt sad. That’s something my dad would have loved to do himself. Thankfully, Raz has every boy hobby that ever existed and also wanted to do it himself (they say you pick one who’s like your father…). We drove it to Portland so he and his dad could work on it in his dad’s garage. They changed the oil, rotated the tires, changed the brake fluids and a bunch of other boy/car things. They saved me $500. As we were preparing to drive back home to Seattle, I told Raz’s mom how grateful I was to him and his dad for wanting to take the 60,000 mile project on. I found myself getting weepy and nostalgic. It was such a gift.
We passed five months on Wednesday and when I realized it, I couldn’t believe it. Five months already? We’ve done a lot to cope, but it will always be weird without him. Some days it makes me very crabby. It’s been harder lately. The more successful I am at the office, the funnier Mittens is, the time I want to burn just catching up - it all piles up into this “Hey, Dad” depository in my brain. I wish I could call and dump it all, but every day that passes is just 24 more hours spent convincing myself that he’s not coming back. This is my outlet. This is how I know he will never die. He is my hero. He will be remembered.


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