Last Friday Ben and I said goodbye to the only car I've ever owned, Bernadette. She was a 2002 Chevrolet Malibu that I received in 2005. I was late getting on board with driving because my mom never drove (and still doesn't) and we made our way by walking wherever we needed to get to in our small town, or taking the occasional bus. But with some training from my ex-step-dad, Tony, I passed a driving test and finally got my license. He purchased the car for me, getting a kick out of the fact that it was a Malibu and I was going to school at Pepperdine in Malibu.
We've been through a lot during the ten years we were together. It was with her that I experienced my first - and so far only - car
accident during a sleep deprived drive through the canyon north of
Pepperdine. During my time in undergrad my mom moved up to Nor Cal and so, along with having some friends and a job one summer in the area, I made many, MANY trips up and down the state, including one amazing trip in which I took hwy 1 the entire way up. I loved the freedom of driving and I took advantage of that freedom frequently. Then, after marrying Ben, we took her across the country to Indiana and back, and then on a west coast tour.
She, of course, was not without fault. The radio only worked during the winter; a problem that started in 2007 as a small quirk. When I drove over a bump the radio would stop working but then driving over a second bump would bring it back on. It was sporadic and manageable. Soon, however, the time between going out and coming on increased and merely driving over a bump wouldn't fix the problem. Eventually I noticed that the sound would just be out when it was hot and on again months later when it was colder. No mechanic could ever figure out what the problem was; therefore, it never got fixed.
There were also a few instances of overheating and cracked head gaskets; which is ultimately what the final problem was. The one that was too expensive to fix. The one that would cost more than she was worth. Funny enough, the last mechanic we saw, the one who diagnosed the final cracked head, thought he might know what was wrong with the radio...
Bernadette didn't actually get her name until last summer. I wanted to encourage her as we were going up a mountain between Colorado and Wyoming and felt that "you can do it, car!" seemed insufficient. I liked the name Bernard, which meant "brave as a bear"; however, the Malibu was definitely more feminine so we went with Bernadette, the female version of Bernard. Little good it did us since she broke down a couple weeks later.
Now we have a new car, a 2011 Dodge Caliber. Neither Ben nor I had bought a car before, so that was an exciting experience. It's scary to drive away from a dealership in a new (to you) car without actually having spent any money that day. We have yet to name this car. It's more masculine looking, so I'm leaning toward something like Bruce. We'll see. We both like the car so far and can't wait to see where he'll take us. What adventures we'll have together. What lessons we'll learn. What we'll see. But for now my heart still leaps when I pass a gold Chevy Malibu on the road and think "there's my car!"