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Ariana Katz


4 min
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Speed


Better For The Roads We Crossed

Saying goodbye to my first love

by Ariana Katz

I learned that part of being alive is screaming your heart out to something. Anything. That sometimes crying and listening to the Rent soundtrack is a good thing. A necessary thing. And, most of all, I learned that some of the best thinking is done on long, silent drives.

Better For The Roads We Crossed | Saying goodbye to my first love

She’s selling me.

We’ve been together since she was 16 and now I’m just supposed to be with some unknown person? How will they treat me? Will we go on adventures together? Or will I waste away, waiting for them to pay attention to me?

I’m not exactly sure what to think, to be honest. These last 14 years have been incredible. We’ve shared so many firsts together: intimate moments with boyfriends while parked in quiet Marin neighborhoods; late night In-N-Out runs in college when she needed a study break; recklessly racing total strangers down the hills of Van Ness.

She is talking to some guy — a potential buyer — while they circle around me. I feel like I’m on display. He kicks at me and I want to jump back, but I can’t. I stay still and voiceless.

“Where was she serviced?” The guy’s rough voice asks, as he stalks around me.

“Different places since I’ve moved around so much,” she responds. “But I have all her paperwork. She’s in great condition but she does need a little TLC. I’ve replaced her clutch a few times over the years and right before coming to North Carolina I gave her new spark plugs and air conditioning. I used to work at Jiffy Lube so she’s always had regular oil changes. Basically, if anything major was ever broken, I fixed it.”

“Hmmph,” the man grunts. “If I were to take it — ”

IT? How dare he!

“— I’d need to conduct a full check. I’d want to take it in and look under the hood. To make sure everything checks out.”

My defense mechanism kicks in to distract me from his rude implications. As he continues talking like I’m just some disposable chunk of metal, I zone out.

I remember when we first met. She strode past my many sisters with her dad in tow. Her eyes fixated on me and I felt a slight electrical hum within. As she carefully climbed inside, I could feel her trembling through the fibers of the seat.

“Alright.” Her Dad slid into my passenger seat. “Let’s take this baby for a spin.”

See, rude mechanic guy? Dad knew what he was talking about. I’m no “it”.

She was probably rolling her eyes at her dad’s corniness, but at the time I didn’t catch it. I would later learn her moods and how they would affect our adventures, but we didn’t know each other yet.

She pressed down to engage my clutch and turned the key, cranking me to life. Oil churned smoothly inside as I rumbled awake, ready to roll.

I could tell she’d been practicing, because despite a few jumpy starts, she never stalled me. That made me proud. Like her father would later say, “She’s a natural.”

With her, I first felt the sweet curves of mountain roads, the joy of accelerating around corners, and the rush of real power as her left foot pressed and released in perfect synchronization with her right to go smoothly up and down through my gears.

Those first drives were the best. The going was clumsy initially, but we learned together. Once she got the dance down, we were off. Power and air and oil reverberating through my body as we glided around the mountain turns, music blasting.

She taught me about the immense, amazing, crazy wide world of music: Fleetwood Mac, the Beatles, Tupac, Salt-n-Pepa, Mariah Carey, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tim McGraw, DJ Shadow, Beethoven and everything in between. I learned that part of being alive is screaming your heart out to something. Anything. That sometimes crying and listening to the Rent soundtrack is a good thing. A necessary thing. And, most of all, I learned that some of the best thinking is done on long, silent drives.

A few days go by and I’m not taken back to see that creepy man, so I gleefully start to suspect she disliked him as much I did. We’re out roaming around town, picking up coffee and the like, and she gets on the phone. She sounds interested in something; I feel a nervous flutter in my oil filter. I zone out again to distract myself from what it might mean.

We were out on one of our many road trips, this time with two of her girlfriends. I felt like a ghost that night as piles of snow hid my features, blending in with my white exterior. The city of South Lake Tahoe pulsed around us as we inched through the streets. Tons of men and women hollered and cheered and stumbled and peed and counted down from 10 in some inside joke I didn’t understand. It was thrilling.

The next day we made our way back around the lake, taking a route we’d never used before. We had always gone to the North Shore from Marin so I didn’t know the road, but her hands steadied me. To our left the lake glimmered, a terrifying black hole so deep you could get lost in it. Other cars, with less adept drivers, skidded in front of us, spinning around on the icy road. Her friends screamed and jumped around. SO not helpful.

My AWD and her calm composure kept us straight on, though. She downshifted me into first and we slowly eased around the spinning cars. If she had slammed on the brakes we would have skidded too, but she knew me so well…

No, she knows me. I don’t know…

We got stuck in the snow three times that night. My short body was not built for that kind of weather. She didn’t mind, but her friends were useless — so many “Oh, my Gods!” Ugh. I wish my back seat had an eject button. The last time we got stuck she sent them to look for our nearby destination in the dark. She was just as annoyed at their inability to help me as I was. Once they were gone she put me in neutral, jumped out, and like an adrenaline-fueled mother saving her child, pushed and pushed and pushed until I rolled free.

Bad. Ass.

On the last day I saw her — the day I met him — I got a full scrubdown.

“My dad is a Subaru rally driver so it was pretty much decided I’d get a Subaru,” the young guy who showed up to buy me said. “I love that she’s old school. Impreza 2.5RS with the spoiler, too!”

“I’m glad you like her. I call her Izzy.”

“Hmm… I like that,” the young guy responded, grinning.

He likes my name! Ok… I can work with this.

As I sped away with the young guy and his mom, I let myself drift off once more. I thought back to the last time she and I went to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. I could feel the creak of my joints as she pushed me around the turns. I could still handle it, just not as smoothly. She didn’t seem to mind. She loved me anyway.


As I watch him drive away with Izzy, I think back to the last time she and I went to the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Starting up the tree-covered slopes, I glanced at the 105,000 miles on the odometer and pondered her aging parts — would she need a new suspension soon? But without so much as a creak she pulled through the corners with ease and my worries faded. As we wound through the forest, all our shared memories streamed alongside as if projected on the leaves. Flashes glimmered by: the thousands of times she gave me all she had; the times she saved my life; the freedom she provided.

They round the corner and she’s out of sight. My hands are shaking and I’m fighting back sobs. She is gone.