Monday, June 30, 2014

A Car Story

When Zac and I were first married, neither one of us had a car. We had been college students with our roots out of state, heretofore able to get everywhere by foot: school, church, work, groceries. We hadn't needed a car and we couldn't have afforded one anyway. Plus, going home for vacations and summer to NJ and VA, respectively, was easier without a car to worry about.

But then, we were a married couple. We borrowed a truck from our good friend's girlfriend to use to leave our wedding reception and I taught Zac to drive its stick shift on our honeymoon. It was sort of hilarious, but we were just so happy to be married, we really didn't care much. When we went back to school in January (and returned the truck), Zac was riding his bike in the snow to work at night from 10 pm - 2 am (not the most ideal). Our church for married students was farther away than previous congregations had met. It was possible to walk there, but it took a long time. So we ended up asking for rides (especially when it was snowing) and that was kind of a pain. And yeah, walking back from the grocery store with bags of food on our backs and draped over each shoulder and arm was getting tiring.

So we decided to look for a car.  Wohoo!!
Zac found a 96 Toyota Tercel that was in our price range; a salvaged title but only 17,000 miles, 2 years old, and in great condition.
We had a friend drive us to look at it and purchase it. He drove us 30 min away to my uncle's bank where we applied for our loan.
And then we were the happy owners of our little Tercel.

The following summer (1999), after I had graduated and given birth to Abigail, Zac had an internship at an accounting firm in DC. We did an apartment swap with a couple in Fairfax so we stayed in their furnished apartment but we still had to bring some dishes and baby gear, plus clothes etc for the whole summer. We packed all of this bumper to bumper, floor to ceiling, in the Tercel and drove from UT to NJ (first) to VA with Abigail only 3 weeks old. I remember she still had her umbilical cord stump attached when we left. It came off sometime during the trip. She was nursing and we stopped about every hour or so the entire trip, either to breastfeed, or change diapers, or comfort her in some way. It was quite possibly the most uncomfortable, tiring, hot, awkward, and LONG trip of my entire life. We pulled off on highway exits just to stop on the side of the road (because there really isn't anything else around on some long stretches of Wyoming, etc) and sat there to nurse her. One night in particular we sat in the car in the dusk, facing some fenced off field full of cows, and the cows came closer to investigate this silly sight of me feeding a baby with the side door open (it was hot) on the side of a road where I'm sure not many people ever have reason to stop.

But we made it. We visited Zac's parents in NJ, then went on to Fairfax, VA where we stayed for the summer. Then we reversed the entire trip to go back to UT at the end of the summer. Abigail was a few months older then, of course, so it wasn't quite as difficult, having settled into a somewhat more regular and spaced out nursing schedule. But, still. Oh the memories of being crammed in there with all our stuff, sitting in the backseat with baby Abigail so I could try to comfort and entertain her all those miles.

The summer after that (2000), Zac graduated with his Masters and we actually moved out to VA, where he had accepted a job with the same company he had interned with. And we drove that same trip again, in the same little car. Except this time, most of our belongings were in an ABF U-Pack truck making their way across the country without us. Phew!!

And then, when we ended up moving back to UT (yet again) after living in VA for just a year, Zac drove the Tercel yet again cross country. I flew by myself, with Abigail (age 2) and Isaac (age 2 months). This was an adventure in and of itself. But I was just happy not to be driving in that car again for that long with a nursing baby.

Anyway - we've kept that car for 16 years. It's been Zac's commuting car. And as it got older, the clutch became more temperamental. The engine light came on at random times for reasons we didn't really want to find out. 2 seatbelt latches in the backseat broke and the driver's seatbelt sometimes required some coaxing to get latched (dumb thing). Zac crashed into a deer, smashing in the side and roof and front window. The window was replaced, the dents weren't so easily fixed. The paint started rusting and peeling. But it was a good car, still running, and doing its job.

We thought we might keep it to have Abigail learn to drive on (I've always thought my kids should learn to drive stick!). But then, we paid off our minivan and the Tercel had its registration up the end of July. We would have had to have it pass safety inspection to register it again and with the engine light on, we didn't really want to have to pay to fix another problem to get it to pass. So, the timing was right. It was time for a new car!

And thus we said goodbye to the first car we owned as a married couple. The little Tercel we had driven cross country so many times and had been through so much with us. We didn't want to mess with trying to sell it so we just took it in for a trade. They gave us a whopping $350 for it! 

And now we have a new-ish car. We love it.

And that's the story.:)

1 comment:

Julie said...

So....after reading about the adventures, I got a little bit sad that it was time to get rid of it, haha.

I'm glad you got this written. That was fun for me :)

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