My first car was a Volkswagen Beetle. I bought her from my father as he was about to get a newer car. I named her Dora the Explorer. It makes no sense, I know, but to me it was perfect. I was going to explore the world with her.
Having a car gave me agency like I’d never experienced before. I could go anywhere I wanted to go when I wanted. More importantly, I could leave somewhere when I wanted to. All I needed was enough money for gas, and I was free.
If you needed a ride, I was your girl. I drove people to the grocery store, to church, and to the bowling alley. Once I brought someone back to their hometown so they could vote. We weren’t even very close friends. I just wanted to drive, so I volunteered every chance I had! Need an airport pickup? No problem! On any given night of the week, I was taking two people to Quickchek for snacks or driving through Taco Bell with too many people hanging out the windows. There was always something going on in my car.
Anyone who spent significant time with me and Dora knew we had certain expectations. You can’t sit out a Disney singalong. Everyone knows the words to Disney songs, and you have to join in and hakuna matata like you mean it. You also can’t complain about bathroom or snack breaks slowing things down on the road. As long as you live under my moonroof, you’ll abide by my rules!
Dora had an automatic spoiler that would activate after we reached a certain speed, and it happened right behind backseat passengers’ heads on the outside of the car. I was so used to hearing it that I would always forget to warn someone new, and they’d jump out of their skin every time. Sorry, guys!
When I was alone and had something on my mind, I’d go for long drives in any direction away from college. This was before I had a GPS (and smartphones weren’t common then), so it was sometimes a little complicated to find my way home. This often happened at 2 or 3 or 4 AM. W came along with me on many of these late night soul-searching drives. I loved it, and they’re some of my favorite early memories together.