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Blog

Morning Glory 1998-2018

Emily Wright

You were 10 years old when you were purchased for $4000 cash. I was 20.

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You shouldn’t have been a good road tripping car, so small and incredibly uncomfortable. You didn’t come with frivolous things like cruise control or power steering. But you had a tape deck and you were cheap and plastic and got 40 miles/gallon. I was grateful.

 Driving to San Diego, January 2009.

Driving to San Diego, January 2009.

We got acquainted driving from Western NY to San Diego. Our 3 years on the West Coast were formative and lonely and lovely. I grew adept at packing you full of gear: bikes on the back, kayaks and surfboards on top, and camping equipment stuffed in the trunk. Joshua Tree was our favorite place, but we drank it all in: the Mojave Desert, San Francisco, Davis, Lake Tahoe. We adventured up and down Highway 1 along the Pacific Ocean. Sometimes we took friends, but more often than not, we were alone. For one semester, you brought me to and from evening classes at UC San Diego, windows streaming in the salty autumn air and nighttime silence.

 The San Bernadino Mountains. 2009

The San Bernadino Mountains. 2009

Of course, it wasn't all sunshine and freedom. My AAA membership was really the backstage hero. I’ll never forget the time when your exhaust system fell right out of the bottom of you. Pipes dragging, sparks flying. . . and I, alone in the desert with no cell service. I hiked to the nearest gas station and used a payphone to call AAA. 

 Driving to Northern California. 2010

Driving to Northern California. 2010

When it was time to come back to the East Coast, you fit all my possessions inside, my kayak on your roof, and me and my dad in your antiquated front seats. You happily detoured to National Parks and chugged doggedly up mountain highways at a blazing max speed of 25 mph, a line of cars honking behind. It was during that trip that you earned your name, Morning Glory: because you and I were always at our best in the early sunrise hours, covering many miles on the way to each next adventure. Allons! The road is before us! (Will you come travel with me? Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?)

 West to East. 2011

West to East. 2011

Back in Western NY, your skinny tires and 5-speed transmission proved advantageous in the snow. So we commuted an hour each way to college for 2 years. Mom made me a lap blanket because your heat took awhile to get started on frigid mornings. One such morning—the kind of day when the snow squeaks and your breath hurts—I shifted you into reverse and the entire stick came right out of the center console. (Another call to AAA.) But through all those winters, you never once refused to start.  

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In the summertime, I nannied for kids who loved to wash you. (I think they thought you were cool because you were so different than their parents' cars!) During the school year, you were their ferry to lacrosse and soccer practice. With 3 kiddos packed like sardines in the backseat, your crank windows were the novelty of the century.

 My zero degree sleeping bag made your backseat an appropriate all-season napping spot

My zero degree sleeping bag made your backseat an appropriate all-season napping spot

Sure, you still needed odd repairs here and there. Your side mirror had a pesky habit of falling off (try a new glue this time!) and your dome light hung loose from the ceiling by its cords (a disco ball!) Sometimes if I honked your horn, it just wouldn’t shut off. I would have to pull over, pop the hood, and pull the fuse. (Finally I just stopped replacing it). My fiancé Mark claimed to hate you, but when he patched your exhaust system with a PBR can, I knew it was love. Sure enough, after we got engaged, you were the one waiting at the trailhead to take us back home.

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In 2016, we left home to train for 6 months in Georgia and Florida. Another big drive to chase yet another big dream. Maybe it was because your primary purpose was carrying kayaks worth 500x more than you (a task you performed valiantly), but it was there that you started to show your age. Your bearings came loose, and your 3rd muffler fell off (No job for a PBR can this time). Your charging port completely disintegrated. Your AC was spotty (and was on its way out), and you beeped randomly whenever a door was opened. The foam on your ceiling—which we’d already replaced once—started to shred. I looked up your KBB value. $180. (Carry on.)

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When Mark and I moved to Richmond, you carried all the supplies that newlywed homeowners need: paint, plywood, and a wheelbarrow (just strap it to the roof!) But shortly thereafter, you were deemed too uncertain to drive long distances. Mark threatened to cut your roof off and turn you into a yard tractor. We found a lenient shop to inspect you (ignore the cracked windshield, please!)

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I knew your (our?) time was coming. Your death sentence was delivered via a list of 12 critical repairs you would need in order to pass inspection by the end of the month. KBB value range: $27- $173. (Fine print: “KBB does not appraise cars in poor condition.”)

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Your value has always been intangible because you were my twenties. You took me to every place. Every day. During our decade together, we lived in San Diego, Western NY, Georgia, Florida, and Virginia. We traveled through over 30 states as well as Canada and Mexico. You were my trusty companion for my greatest accomplishments and my most severe heartbreaks. You kept me humble and grateful for 10 years. And you were unapologetically scrappy for every last one of your 220,164 miles. Forever alive, forever forward.

Allons! It’s the end of an era. I will miss this one dearly.