Monday, March 28, 2022

Saying Goodbye 2.0

It was hard in 2011, and it's difficult now. It actually felt as if I were going somewhere to have it put down. Each mile was a mile closer to a terminality that I knew was coming, yet never could prepare for.

As long as I've been alive saying goodbye has been difficult. I can remember one example early in life when my dad left something in a lot. I sat inside for about and hour and an employee there tried to talk me out but how could I leave when I knew this was the end. The end? Wait, you think I'm talking about a person or a pet? Oh no, not at all. I'm talking about a car.

Every presentation I give I touch on what some call an inappropriate attachment to objects. In this case I don't find it inappropriate at all as a car is with us essentially everywhere we go. All of our memories in travel are tied to that vehicle and when a person's memories are tied to objects it feels like a partial deletion of all the memories tied to it.

The car I was saying goodbye to was my 2006 Infiniti G35X. I got it in 2011 and that was such an amazing time in my life. I never thought I was going to be in a place in my life that I was going to have a "cool" car. When I got it I had been presenting for a year and couldn't believe I was getting more and more presentations. Driving that car off the lot was one of the happiest moments I've ever had. It was painful leaving the 95 Maxima behind, but I looked forward to the memories to be made in the new car, and goodness there were memories!

Right off the bat in April of 2011 I did a tour of Missouri speaking tour and crisscrossing the state in my new car was a joy. I also had several USAC .25 races in the region that saw me driving all over the midwest, and each drive slowly erased the memory of the old car, but was replaced with new memories.

There were good times in the vehicle such as the time, headed to Vegas late at night, that my friend Rob got the honor of driving through Kansas while I slept. There were frustrating times such as a six-hour long traffic delay due to a spill, and there were sad times such as getting a phone call while driving and learning of the passing of a former coworker. 

A car truly is with us through it all and while some people may say that there should be no attachment whatsoever to a thing that's made with so many parts, but I argue it isn't just mechanical parts but rather it truly become a part of our lives. With that said I'm at a loss to how anyone can simply discard a car they've had for so long with no emotions whatsoever.

My car was with me through the truly bad times after 2017 and the darkness came at the end of 2019 through the pandemic. It was also with me when I picked up INDYCAR and just thinking back to June 2020 and the time I drove under the tunnel at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway as an employee will forever be tied to that car. However, I got the car at 50,000 miles and it was over 252,000 miles. I drove the car over 200,000 in 11 years with the bulk coming between 2011 and 2017. 

The car was old and needed more work than it was worth to remain road worthy according to the inspection process. As much as I was attached to the car it made no sense so on Friday it was time for the car's final drive as I went to a dealer for a new car. That final drive was difficult and each mile my emotions grew and grew. I couldn't do this alone, so I called my mom and talked about all the grand adventures I had in that car, such as the time I drove through an extremely small tornado. Or the time I drove out to Rapid City in it to see her and I drove 17 hours straight.

Try as I might to try and stop time to forever delay saying goodbye, it was futile. I had taken photos, and a video, of what my car looked like before I cleaned it out that morning so the process would be quick when I got to the dealer, but that didn't work. When I pulled up to the door, I just sat there staring out the windshield remembering that same view I had in 2011 when I got the car. How could I ever have imagined the grand adventures I was blessed to have and all the people I've met and presented to along the way? I remembered all the potential energy I had at the lot in 2011 and wanted to somehow feel that again. My speaking engagements will return, I know it, but it was hard to experience that same sense of awe I had in 2011 and as I watched people move back and forth in the dealership I had to get out of the car because, in a way, saying goodbye to this car was, in a way, saying goodbye to an era.

After all the papers were signed, I got the keys to my new car. I got the same brand and a 2019 model. Before I left the parking lot, I stared out the windshield like I did in 2011. While I didn't have the same sense of awe I had in 2011, the sense of awe was replaced with a sense of determination. The determination to help others has never been stronger in my heart. I await the day I can say that I've got a national school tour, or a new book coming out. When this happens, on that day, I knew I'd more than likely being looking out that windshield at some point in time. My heart began to beat with a sense of happiness as I pulled out of the lot. When I got to the interstate and truly felt where the car could do, and the youthful step and agility this car had, I smiled. Slowly, memories will be pushed out of where my old car went, but times move on, so do we, and I look forward to reminiscing in, say, 11 years of all the grand adventures I have in my new car.  

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