Off the Press

April 24, 2012

By Christina Lords

Christina lords Press reporter

Long and winding road comes to a sad end

I’m seated in the waiting room of Issaquah’s Midas Muffler and Brake Shop as Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” drifts through speakers overhead, but I don’t have to wait long.

The Midas man steps in through the door holding a section of rusty muffler from my 1995 Kia Sephia.

Before he even gets a word out, I know. Our 10-year run together is over.

Midas man, bless his heart, lets me down easy. It’ll cost $600 to $900 to fix, more than the car is worth.

I’ll explain my situation. I’ve been scrimping and saving for a down payment — $50 dollars here, $25 there — for a new car for nearly two years. I have $2,000 saved. Paying to fix the Kia (affectionately pronounced by her pet name “ki-uh” for years) now just doesn’t make financial sense.

Midas man understands and gives me the encouragement I desperately need. He wishes me the best of luck, jokingly offering the muffler for my mantle as a memento of our time together.

Among friends, the Kia is somewhat of an institution. Indeed, several people sent me text and Facebook messages offering condolences when they learned of her ultimate demise.

Neither of her back doors opened from the outside. Her gas cap didn’t close. Her emergency brake stopped braking for anything eons ago.

Don’t tell the Puget Sound, but she had fairly steady oil leak. The trunk’s water-tight seal was, well, far from it. The dash had been slashed open after I asked my father to increase the Kia’s defogging capabilities my sophomore year of high school. Her CD player that my parents installed as a gift for my 16th birthday was ripped out and stolen two years ago, never to be replaced. I don’t remember the last time she graced a car wash’s presence.

Even the Kia emblem on the front bumper had faded to black.

But none of that ever really mattered, because, as my first car — purchased for $1,000 while I was in ninth grade —she was never just a car to me. She created, as any teenager with their first set of wheels will tell you, an ultimate freedom.

Everywhere I’ve gone since she first came into my life — more than 71,000 miles ago — she’s taken me.

She provided the backdrop to my first kiss.

She’s where I loaded my gear for our most epic camping adventures, including the time I took her on my senior sneak in high school (James Taylor guiding us along the entire way) and she bottomed out several times on the way in. Foolishly, I thought she’d never make it back out and we’d die there in that isolated Island Park camping spot together, but she pulled through.

She’s transported me through some of my life’s biggest milestones: taking me to my first job, getting me to my high school graduation and dropping me off the day I got my bachelor’s degree from the University of Idaho.

She’s played the soundtracks of my life, survived hitting a suicidal deer on U.S. Highway 95 and slowly but surely gotten me home in some of the worst blizzards I’ve seen, including an ill-fated trip from Coeur d’Alene to Moscow, Idaho, with pileups so deep I could feel the snow scraping her underbody. (I literally kissed her hood when we got home.)

After trading her in for a measly $300 on a 2008 Honda Fit last week, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t tear up when I handed over her key to the car salesman.

She’s never been just the car that’s taken me from point A to B. Instead, she’s facilitated all the important rides in my life, and all the growth, progress and changes that come along with that.

I couldn’t have asked her for more.

Enjoy the ride in Car Heaven, little Kia. You’ve earned it.

Christina Lords: 392-6434, ext. 239, or newcastle@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

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