This car was used by three generations of my family over the course of 11 years. It lasted through road trips through the desert and my grandfather’s driving; it hauled around my mom’s golf clubs; and later, the back seats survived whatever abuse Fox could throw at them.
Over the weekend, I traded it in for a newer model. I would have kept it if I could, but it made sense for Nikki and I to upgrade to something new, and so its last task for my family was to help usher in the next generation.
It was never the flashiest car. I sometimes reveled in speeding down the freeway — it had a lot more horsepower in it than its looks would suggest — because I knew it was probably the most anonymous-looking thing someone could own, and surely no cop would think I was actually speeding in it. It didn’t have a crazy state-of-the-art sound system or anything; in fact, we had to use one of those cassette-tape things that plugs into a headphone jack so that we could listen to Spotify on our iPhones. It was a car we ended up with out of necessity, not necessarily one we would have chosen to own if we had more options.
But goddamn, that little machine was dependable.
We only had it for a few years, but in the time it spent with us, it performed just about every task you could cram into a car commercial. I think the only thing we didn’t do was tow something, but I bet if we’d tried, the trusty little Camry would’ve impressed us. It never needed major repairs, and even when the guy at the shop told us we were on the verge of the battery going out, it kept on running without any issues, right up to the moment it left us.
We get caught up — I get caught up — sometimes in aspirational thinking. We want to curate our lives to be these perfectly crafted things like the layouts we see in magazines and on Pinterest. Real life isn’t like that, and it’s easy to forget about the stuff you own that maybe isn’t so fancy but that’s lasted you a long time. There’s probably a bunch of it around you right now: some Ikea furniture that you’ve had for 10 years; a shirt that’s been around since high school; the coffee mug you’ve always used.
That car gave us more than we ever asked of it, and in the end, it outlasted us. I’ll miss it.