I have a friend. She is funny, and kind, and likes British historians and bad tv as much as I do. I have known her a long time. Our moms are friends, and if we’re lucky, we’re going to grow up and be them, drinking too much wine and gardening. Probably without the gardening part.
I met her in high school. It was right around the time the cool kids were getting learner’s permits and cars. I was not a cool kid. She was. She got a permit. And a car. A used car- a green Volvo. The Green Beast. She was 15, and her parents (her dad especially) thought it would be safe. She needed a good, safe car to learn how to drive.
She got her permit, I got my permit. She got her license, I got my license. I did not get a car. But we did a lot together, so she gave me rides. We became better friends. The Volvo took us to lacrosse practice on the other side of town, because our (horrible) football team thought girls’ cleats messed up the field more than the boys’ lacrosse cleats did. The Volvo took us to the mountains, on an ill-fated trip to Cheeseburgers in Paradise. The Volvo survived a run in with some wild turkeys on the way. The picture from that day is on my bookcase right now.
We had an accident on the way to see our favorite local band, after her dad told us it was raining too hard to drive to Winston-Salem (he was right). We sang terrible songs in the Volvo. We drove to youth group. We made up terrible dances to terrible songs in the Volvo. She drove me to my first surprise birthday party (her idea). We grew up and went to college.
The Volvo took her to Pennsylvania. It made several trips from there to home, to North Carolina. We drove to the mountains (again) and had another unfortunate run-in with animals. Hogs this time- falling out of a truck all over I-40. I will never forget the look on her face. We took road trips. I got a car. We spent a summer racing around twisty mountain roads working at a summer camp. My sister took my car. We graduated.
She moved to Baltimore. I got my first real job. We drove Tampa one December, because we could. Somewhere, I still have the sweatshirt from that Outback Bowl. The Volvo came to DC. We road-tripped back north from holidays at home, stopping at her aunt and uncle’s for ham biscuits. I drove us home from the wedding where our first close high school friend got married.
Somewhere along the line, the Volvo began to show its age. There were some close calls, weird smells, odd leaks. A boyfriend suggested a new car. He didn’t understand why she hesitated. I did. She called one day, stuck on the side of the highway in the rain. The wipers wouldn’t work. There were more problems. She got a new car. The last time I was in Baltimore, I refused to get in it. We drove the Volvo instead. Her parents came to get it a few days later.
They sold the Volvo to a mechanic. He cleaned it up, replaced what needed to be replaced, fixed it up to resell. She called me today. Her mom had called. The Volvo had been sold.
“A nice family bought it,” her mom said. “Their 15-year-old girl needed something to learn how to drive in.”
“She and her best friend are going to have so much fun!” said my friend.
I hope they have as much fun as we did.