Cars can play such an important role in our lives and many of us form a very special bond with these cheeky chunks of metal. Then when the time comes to say good bye parting with them can border on heartbreak. I myself have shed a tear on seeing my once beloved car being driven away by someone else, while inside I was hoping that they give them a good life also.
It was a great pleasure then to receive the essay below from Mary Darcy who is a writer, producer and Mini Cooper enthusiast from New York City. Mary recently had to let go of her Mini and she shared these beautiful words about how this made her feel.
It’s stupid to cry over a car. So I won’t. I won’t.
Because I know it’s stupid.
It’s especially stupid during Covid – with the loss of life and jobs, and the economy tanking and the bitter political climate. I mean, seriously, when minotaurs are breaking down the doors of the U.S Capitol, it seems particularly small and self-indulgent to shed tears over giving up one tiny little car. Especially a 16-year-old car with 195,000 miles whose back hatch has already rusted off once. Letting go of car whose right front wheel may come loose at any moment, whose gear shift has to be jammed hard while turning the key to get it to start, is certainly no great cause for lament.
Even if it is a British racing green Mini Cooper
It’s not safe to drive anymore. Nothing lasts forever. And 16 years — that’s like 120 dog years. How long did you think it would last? A lot changes in 16 years.
When you drove her off the lot in 2005 she was shiny and dent free, even if you weren’t. You’d already been through a lot. In the before times you were broke. Every night as you walked home from your public radio job, you’d pass a car just like her in the park. It was the first one you’d seen up-close, and the only time you can recall that a thing made your heart ache just a little. You’ve never been materialistic. You knew you shouldn’t love a thing. But still.
You talked about that car so much that your new boyfriend got you a toy one to put on your desk. And sometimes, in the moments between interviewing and editing, you’d wistfully dream about a real one. That was back in the time when the public radio job was the latest in a string of things about you that made your conservative dad shake his head a bit. Buy an American car was the family mantra – with something about repair costs on foreign vehicles tossed in for good measure. All said with love.
And all that was before the boyfriend slipped a ring on your finger and together you created a new family with new rules. Suddenly the safe, sporty little green machine went from self-indulgent extravagance to wise, only slightly self-indulgent investment that would make you happy. Happy.
So you went to the dealership and handed over your hard earned money from the public radio job. And somehow, in that very act, you moved ever so slightly closer to the person you wanted to become. And when they presented you with the key to this sporty little toy – this shiny piece metal with a long flat top and seats perfectly suited to your 5 foot 4 frame, it was love at first sight. Suddenly so much hurt evaporated. Suddenly you weren’t fat and ugly and stupid and dorky. You weren’t a liberal pinko freak or the girl who was bullied in schools or cheated on by boyfriends or who was just never enough. Suddenly you had depth and style and substance and joy. All that from a car. Or maybe just from a decision.
With the sunroof open and the wind in your hair so much hurt blew away, and over miles of backroads and highways you began to realize what you want isn’t wrong. That who you are isn’t wrong. And together you’d drive around carrying that message to people who needed to hear it. For sixteen years. Would you have figured all of that out anyway? Probably. Would you have tried to instil that message in others? Sure. But it was more fun with her. For sixteen years she was the spoonful of sugar that helped make everything go down a little easier.
Sixteen years of ice cream runs with kids, road trips with friends, wedding photos, opening nights, random summer drives, carting plants, cupcakes, a three tier wedding cake, and 9 foot Christmas trees. Sixteen years of carpool karaoke. You drove her while building a business, planning events, accepting awards and nursing defeats. She once carried you on three wheels and one shredding tire, across town to the hospital where your father was dying so you could be with him. Your dad, who loved her too, because he could see how happy she made you. He’d always laugh when he saw you roll up in the driveway.
For 16 years, she kept you safe, and delivered you home, through good times and bad. She was cute, and fabulous – and she made you realize that you were too. And when people saw her coming, they knew that you had arrived.
So, no, I will not cry over a car.
That would be stupid.
Not over a car.
Never over a car.
Mary donated her beloved Mini to Wheels for Wishes where she will probably have a whole new life as a taxi in South America (she was still running but couldn’t pass inspection in the United States.) The process was easy and Mary encourages others to do the same when it’s time to let go of a car they love.
Photographs by Mary Darcy.