Submitted by Faith Williams on 10/03/2020
Some people may have called our relationship toxic, but I prefer to call it passionate. When we were good, we were marvelous. When we were bad, we were downright awful. She makes my life interesting. I loved her diabolical schemes. She loved to leave me stranded and begging for mercy. When she was “in her feelings,” she liked to blow smoke to start a fire. Her exhaust smelled disgusting. I hated when she leaked antifreeze. Those bottles were expensive. She was unappreciative of what I do for her.
I gave her premium gas, and she choose to burn through it like a mad man. She didn’t even try to save some for later. Then she had the audacity, to roll into mud. Fine, it was my fault, but she let me. She almost got roundhouse kicked in the bumper when she allowed someone to pry open one of her doors with a crowbar. She was lucky that they didn’t steal anything important. She used to “put me in my place” when she refused to “start” for days at a time. I would miss my classes.
I enjoyed the free time, but not at the expense of makeup work. In a way, everything bad she did make me cherish her more. When she decided to “start,” I almost kissed the steering wheel. I took her to get an oil change and bought you some antifreeze. I was thankful for the day you didn’t “crank up” the engine. She allowed me to explore my town on feet. I reduced my carbon footprint by riding the bus. I felt closer to my community. I felt closer to her. Now, you may be wondering. Who was this crazy person? She was my old car. I named her Perry because she was almost as blue as Perry the Platypus from Phineas and Ferb.
My eyes were glued to the screen whenever the television show came on. Perry the Platypus was iconic. He made me want a pet platypus. They’re almost as ugly as they are cute. I imagined that my car was “in cahoots” with Perry the Platypus. They were secret agents. Her missions forced her to pretend to be broken. When she was getting a “jump off,” she was siphoning energy from the evil cars around her. My lost day of schoolwork was a small price to pay for the universe being saved from Dr. Doofenshmirtz. Was she a good car? She was a temperamental teenager. Her anger issues would manifest in her quickly draining battery and “cutting off” in the middle of the street.
She was the reason why my mother avoided highways. Of course not, but I still love her anyway. I had some interesting experiences due to her inability to be a good car. She was very unstable. Sometimes, she’d “cut off” at large department stores. My mother and I would be trapped in epicenter of my city. I’d get to go shopping for pretzels, book, clothes, and fast food. The cinnamon sugar pretzels with caramel would rot my teeth slowly into oblivion, but it felt amazing. I would walk around the vicinity searching for small books.
I would find graphic novels like W.I.T.C.H. and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I’d spend some time laughing with my mother. We didn’t have the best of luck. Misfortune would find us, and laughter would soon follow. We couldn’t help but laugh at our situation. I guess it’s one of our coping mechanisms as black women. When life gets difficult, you laugh until you can’t feel the cold air rushing into your lungs. Imagine that you were driving on a busy road when suddenly your car “cut off.” It’s a scary experience. I look at my past and laugh. It’s the only way to stop from crying. I still love my old car. If I said I hated her, I’d be lying. She’s the reason why I used to exercise often.
My As a child, I would walk a few miles until I reached the nearest gas station or store. It would be a hot summer nights. When the air would hit me in the face, I’d smile. My sweat would slowly disappear followed by relief. My mother would tell me that she loved me. She may have been unable to show it in the most constructive ways, but she loved me. Her mental illness just made it harder for her to show that. Her brain felt “mushy.” It wasn’t a “poo brain” like that horse that Ice King was pretending to be in Adventure Time.
It was something more visceral. My car reminded me of our relationship. There was a constant push and pull, but the force reminded me that there was something fighting me back. The experience is similar to that of one on public transport. You’re sitting next to someone trying desperately to not violate their personal space, but sometimes the bus jerks forward and you do. You feel their discomfort, and they gently push you away. My relationship with my car and my mother is similar to that. I miss my car. I wish I could have brought her with me, but she was “no good.” Her mileage was almost as bad as her attitude. She was a feisty girl. That was my favorite thing about her.
She would always fight back. If I disrespected her by putting five dollars' worth of gasoline in her tank, she would quickly drain it. She knew how to “check me.” She knew how to pull at my short heartstrings. One at a time she’d pinch them. She played them like a harp. If I could, I would have fixed her and taken her to college with me. She made for some entertaining stories. I remember how she used to smell like lavender and lemon. Very strong smell. Her seat would roll back one hundred and eighty degrees. She had two car doors and four seats. I’d have to fold the front seat to hop in the back. I would be the perfect backseat driver. That’s one toxic relationship that I do miss. Everyone develops a deep relationship to their car. I wish she was still here. If I could transport her across state lines, I would. I wouldn’t let her leave me. Although, I’d pay someone to do that. I don’t trust her enough to drive her across the world.
Submitted by Faith Williams on 10/03/2020