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An ode to Barbara Jean

Some may look at her and see a run-down chunk of metal. I look at her and see the 70,000 miles we spent together, the quality singing time, the near-death experiences, the people who have sat in the passenger seat next to me.

My first car was a fiery little number named Ruby. She had all the bells and whistles and I had her a grand total of eight months. I got t-boned on 32nd street by a lady that sued me for not being able to perform sexual acts for her husband on account of the broken ankle and punctured lung she suffered after running a red light and crushing Ruby and I into a light pole. I came out unscathed, somehow, so I got the ticket.

I got Barbara Jean (the affectionate name I chose for her seeing as she seems a bit grandmotherly) right after the tornado. My previous car had been parked in the street in front of our house and ended up facing the opposite way in my front yard after the storm passed. A few tree branches went through the windows and it was definitely not driveable, so we had to leave it where it was. The next day my family went back to our "house" and tried finding pieces of our lives that hadn't been broken by the F-5. Eventually I had the idea to check on my Ray-Bans in my center console. Lo and behold, my car is nowhere to be found. Six months later my dad gets a call from a lot 45 minutes away saying they had my car sitting there and wondered if we wanted to come get it... FEMA.

So in comes Barbara Jean. She wasn't my dream car. Not even close. But she did the job. 172,168 miles later, she's still kickin'. Minus a few mishaps – like the time she made bubbling sounds on College (something no one believed when I told them), and the time I lost my keys in Austin and there wasn't ever a spare — she ran like a champ.

Any of my friends can tell you what a treat it was to rifle through the 30+ CDs in their dedicated space above the radio to find that one blank CD that we knew all the words to. I'm not sure I'll miss the hand cramp I'd get pulling out each CD to decide if it was the one I was looking for, but I might.

My best friend and I talked about how having crappy cars teaches you to be a better person, to appreciate the simple things in life. Like only having CDs and FM radio. Or not knowing what it's like to have a sunroof but getting by with the windows down. Leather seats are a foreign concept and what the hell is a heated steering wheel?

How do you say goodbye to a car that got you through three relationships, four years of college and countless adventures? A reliable car is a hard thing to come by and yet there's one parked in my driveway, stripped of its insurance, basking in sunny retirement.

Happy trails, BJ. We had a good ride.

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