Heart of Gold.

I used to be a car person.

No, that’s not entirely accurate. I used to be in love with my car.

I bought a used, light blue ‘85 Nissan Micra because I was dating a guy in Surrey. The car lasted. He did not. But that was okay, because by then I was in love with her.

I christened her ‘Heart of Gold’ and she was my freedom, my independence, and my giant moving purse. I didn’t really like to be at home much, in those days, so I would just go driving. For hours. I didn’t have to be Family Liz in her. I could swear and sing loudly and change the tapes and the radio as much as I wanted. In my car’s trunk were 473 cassette tapes, about five paperbacks, a towel, an old shirt, and some kleenex. I don’t know why.

I didn’t like to be at home much, so I logged a lot of hours. Just driving. Some nights I went out as far Coquitlam. Just for fun. I sang along to the custom stereo. I sorted through essay notes in my head. Sometimes I car-danced at stoplights. Just…being in the car.

Also, I loved to race. I am not proud of this now, as it was stupid and dangerous, but, man, it was a lot of fun! I used to roll up beside guys on dates and gun my engine, and smile. Sometimes I won, because their girlfriends were shrieking for them to slow down. Not cool me! When my boyfriend raced, I cheered him on. And wished I was driving. My boyfriend and his best friend and I would race out on the highways around Surrey and Delta. They usually won. But I kept up. The point was: I am not a sissy girl. I will do what they can do.

Because she was getting older, my girl needed a lot of repairs. I replaced her alternator with my own hands. I isolated the funny noise coming from the tire and fixed the loose bit. I also changed her oil myself.

She got older. My driving calmed down. But eventually, she was finished. Her time was done. Her head-gasket blew, and they couldn’t re-bore, because her engine was aluminum. There was no resurrecting her this time.

I asked my brother to be there when the tow truck driver came to take her to Scott Road, the vehicle graveyard around here. I sent her off with a Led Zeppelin mixed tape in her cassette deck. She loved Bonzo’s Montreux the best.

I grieved hard, but under the grieving was a kind of relief. She had been growing unreliable, and I never really knew what was going to happen or how much it would cost. And I came to the realization that I didn’t actually need a vehicle that much.

But there are days when I miss doing ninety five over the Alex Fraser Bridge, looking to edge out the CRX and the Corolla, Custard Pie coming through the speakers loud and clear.

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