A few weeks ago I donned the medieval regalia and received my BA. Well, sort of. They don’t actually give you a diploma at graduation, at least not at my college. They hand you a big diploma book that has a letter inside it telling you that once they finish calculating your last semester’s grades they will mail it to you. So I’m still waiting for that.
When I turned eighteen I finally learned how to drive at the hands of the worst driving instructor in the history of the automobile. I saved my meager waitressing money and put up half the cash for a ’99 Subaru Impreza, my dad putting up the other half. It was a small, beige car with little tears in the vinyl on the sides of the seats and a windshield pitted with thousands of pinprick size blemishes in the glass as if it had been through a sandstorm. She was the first thing I really owned. My first big grown up purchase. I named her Dita. I learned to check and change her fluids. I learned how to navigate to places in spite of my anxiety over getting lost. She took me to college and shuttled me safely home each day.
I took two road trips with Dita. They were, I confess, tiny ones– just two or three hour drives, but it felt major. I drove out to New Jersey to spend a long weekend with Ge Ge when he was still living in the States. It was the first time I had arranged an overnight trip on my own and felt that first serge of scary but satisfying independence that comes from traveling somewhere on your own.
Then next road trip was with my dad and one of my other brothers. We went to Gettysburg to tour the battlefields, hang out in museums, and drink screw top wine in a motel room. Also a good trip.
She was old, but reliable. Her four-wheel drive came in handy on back country roads in the winter (though I still managed to very slowly slide into a telephone pole this past December taking out my light). When I first got her, I said I wanted her to last me through college at least. That was the goal.
Sometimes I am astounded at how literal the universe can be. Three days after I graduated I was rear-ended on my way home from the dentist. My mouth still numb from the heavy duty Novocaine they used on me (apparently my back molars are very nervy), I was waiting to turn onto the road out of town and back to my house. Apparently the man behind me didn’t see me waiting and he smashed into the back of me.
His insurance has deemed it too expensive to repair the damage and view it as a total loss. Rest in Peace Dita.
I’m alright, my neck was a bit sore for the first two days after the accident, but I’m better now. I’m not going to think about replacing the car until after I get back from Korea in August. Hopefully by then I’ll have a job.