I Got a Brand New Car and Now I’m an Emotional Wreck!

pain of saying goodbye to a car

I’ve seen my partner cry only a couple of times. The first was when we found out we were having a boy. He was all teary when the doctor told us that news. The second time was when a close family member passed away. And the third, was when he first held our baby boy in the hospital.

Flash forward almost five years and he came home teary after dropping off his car; the three-year lease on it was over. His eyes were bloodshot and I asked him what was wrong. ‘I didn’t know I’d be so emotional giving up the car,’ he answered.

I know exactly how he feels. At the same time my partner was looking into leasing a new car, I also bought a new car. Well, this new car of mine sat in my driveway for about a month before I even opened the door. Everyone assumed it was because I was too lazy and disorganized to get the new plates. Even I thought I was procrastinating on the task of having to go down to Service Canada, otherwise known as the unhappiest place in the world, but my mother’s gut told me something else was holding me back from getting the new plates and driving my new car.

Let’s be honest. Aside from a newborn baby, the second best scent in the world is New Car Scent. But even the thought of driving around in a car that didn’t smell like a mix of old yogurt, stale french fries, and something else I could’t quite put my finger on, wasn’t enough for me to get my ass down to Service Canada. And so the car sat in my driveway, while I continued to drive my old car. I am pretty ambivalent about cars. For me, they get you from A to B. So although I do love my new car, for some reason I just couldn’t get it up to start driving it.

What was wrong with me? What kind of person gets a brand new car and just lets it sit there for more than a month?

Yes, finally, I dragged my ass to Service Canada and got the new plates. But who would have thought that I would have had such an emotional connection to an eight-year-old car? It’s hard, as my partner says, to put into words the feeling you get when you give up your car. ‘I guess it is close to how you feel when your kids go to camp for the summer or when someone you love is going away. You get emotionally attached,’ he says.

I don’t know a lot about cars, but who would have thought that I’d get emotionally attached to a piece of metal with an engine, as if my child was going off to college. I realized, eventually, that I didn’t want to drive my new car because that would mean giving up my old car, which held so many memories.

Who knew I was so sentimental? I mean, I can see why moving homes, once your kids are grown up, or even if they’re still at home, could be an emotional-fuelled experience. There is so much to a home: it’s the place where your baby first rolled over, the bathroom where you gave them their first bath, the laughter around the dinner table in the kitchen, the coffee table where they split their lip open after jumping off the couch. But a car?

My partner describes it like this; ‘When you drive a car for three or more years, you not only get attached to the car, but it’s the memories that you miss when you give it up. When I dropped off my car after the lease was over, I walked way and was all choked up.’

My partner’s mother, who had been with at the time, agreed. ‘It’s hard to get rid of a car and it’s emotional.’ said she. My partner said of it later that, ‘It was then that I thought, wow, she was right.’

And I think that’s why I waited so long to use my new car. I had assumed I wouldn’t miss all the crumbs, the scent that only children can bring to cars after years of eating snacks while being driven around, the many wrappers from snacks on the go, and the mess. But I was highly emotional when I thought about all the memories that took place within the small confined doors.

It was the first car I bought when I moved back to Toronto with my daughter. It was the car I drove and picked her up from school in for the last eight years. It was the car where I chaperoned her to singing lessons, dance lessons, and playdates. It was the car we drove through so many McDonald’s drive-thrus, so she could eat her old favourite food, french fries. (Yes, one lone and very old french fry almost made me burst into tears when I was cleaning out the car!) It was the car where when she would say suddenly, ‘I have to go pee now!’ when we were driving on the highway. It was the car where I also cursed many times trying to get the stroller in the trunk. I’m going to miss it all.

I carted my daughter around in that car for so many years. When she was old enough to sit in the front seat, it’s where we held hands as I drove, because she always loved holding my hand. It was also the car we drove our newborn son home in. It’s the car where my kids puked and fought but also got along and fell asleep at the worst possible times. Cleaning the car made my heart swell in the way that you know tears are soon to follow. I found dozens of pieces of artwork my children had made that I had just thrown in the trunk. I found an old very mouldy, disgusting baby bottle. I found my daughter’s old ballet slippers and also her swim googles.

So, yes, I am going to miss my old car. I never realized how many memories could be made in a car. I had never thought about before. So while I’m ambivalent about what kind of car I drive, I’m far from ambivalent about the memories that were made in that metal thing with an engine and doors. Yes, I was very verklempt. Yes, we can get emotionally attached to our cars and we will even miss our cars, including the disgusting scent.

I’ve been driving my new car now for about five days. The new car scent does cheer me up. And memories will also be made in this car…memories where mommy does not allow any food or drinks…ever.

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