Eight years ago, my father bought me a car. It was a really nice car, a "luxury" brand if you will, and I was in complete and utter shock when he told me he'd been looking into buying it. My father worked very hard and saved his money, and he always taught me to "be humble." Buying his adolescent kid a Mercedes seemed the very antithesis of the unpretentious lifestyle he'd been drilling into my head my whole life--even if the car was pre-owned. "It's a safe car," was his rationale.
I absolutely adored my new car and drove it any chance I could. I'd scoop up my friends for sunny Malibu days and long Hollywood nights, where the car would transform into a makeshift night club, music vibrating through the speakers as my friends danced from their plush leather seats. Driving up and down PCH or along Hollywood Boulevard in that car seemed more fun than it would have been otherwise; it was like I was riding around in a magical chariot of sorts, in an LA based fairy-tale that had become my real life.
There's also something to be said for a twenty-year-old kid driving around Los Angeles in a Benz, meaning, a clueless young girl thinking she was really cool, getting premier valet parking spaces and some sort of validation or street cred from both peers and adults. The car seemed to fit perfectly with my new LA life, which I agree is as ridiculous as it sounds, but man did I love it.
My little Chula went everywhere with me in that car, riding shotgun as Nellie happily rode in the backseat, head sticking out the window, tongue lolling. My friend Kenny drove me to and from UCLA in that very car when he came to visit, scoping out local tourist spots while I was in class. My babysitting charges even loved being well-chauffeured to and from school and to countless after-school activities. A host of priceless memories the car did become.
After eight years together, five and a half of them in the city, I decided to donate the car to Wheels for Wishes. I essentially had been paying a monthly rate just to house the car in an overpriced parking garage across the street, rarely driving since I was always on foot. It also had some mechanical issues that I was told were too costly compared to the car's value, so after much thought, donating it seemed like the right way to go. (I liked the idea of tax write-off, working for myself and all.)
A funny thing happened when the phone rang to tell me the tow truck was on-site, if an emotional car wreck can be called humorous. Memories of and in that car came flooding back to me, along with the thought of the purchaser, with whom I had not had a relationship, since 2008. I didn't expect the sudden impact of getting rid of the car, and I desperately was in need of an airbag to cushion the emotional blow. I missed my little Chula, I missed Kenny, I missed my father. I started to cry and felt pretty ridiculous as each tear fell onto my cheek, but I couldn't help it. I gave myself a few minutes, collected myself as best I could, handed over the key and walked home.
I ran into my neighbor in the hallway, tears still streaming, and told her what happened. She offered her support and was able to empathize, having lost both of her parents at a young age. She said something like, "You never know what will happen in the future." I looked her straight in the eyes, and said "I do, and my father is not it in. I've accepted the situation for what it is, I've accepted him for who he is, and I've truly made peace with it." And I meant it.
17 hours later, at 9:08 AM, I received a phone call from an Unknown Number. It was my father.