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Opinion

WRITE TEAM: 'Just' a little red car

I’ve made so many memories with one little red car.

After seven years in the family and six with me behind the wheel, the car and I shared a lot of life together.

It all started when I learned to drive, took my driver’s test, and began making the couple-mile trip to high school my junior and senior year.

It heard me practice speeches and interview questions as I drove to FFA events in my blue corduroy jacket, nervous but determined. On the way home, it witnessed decisions to learn and move forward.

After graduation, we made longer trips to community college. In total, we rode thousands of miles to classes and events. College newspapers rode in the trunk for delivery during my year as editor.

At the end of my time there, we made the last trip together with me wearing a cap and gown, driving the five-speed manual in high heels.

In my final step of higher education, we made the longer trip to my four-year university, but the car kept going with me, even though it was now old enough to vote.

It taught me to be a bit of a mechanic since it started feeling its age. I’m grateful for the skills I learned, the hours spent with my brother teaching me, and the problem-solving times I was on my own and had to use common sense and YouTube videos, like the time I replaced the headlights.

I mastered oil changes and tire rotations, and I learned to love getting my hands dirty to get the job done.

Throughout its life living on a farm, that little red car had its share of agricultural experiences, like trips to auctions or the farm store, hauling chicken feed and sometimes actual chickens.

We took drives up the road to check on crops, to see if the hay was dry, or to follow with flashers a family member who was driving slow-moving farm equipment back home after dark.

At the end of county fairs, the car was loaded down with supplies and followed the cattle trailer home. It also made daily trips to the 4-H fair, where one week in a certain year kindled friendship with the love of my life.

As the relationship with him grew, the little car and I made trips to visit him and help him on the farm. Together the three of us drove to visit family, and I’ll always treasure the many meaningful conversations we had while the miles ticked by.

Yes, that car has been through a lot. Through the years, I learned all the quirks and foibles, like how to unlock the automatically locking doors for passengers who couldn’t get in.

Sitting in the driver’s seat felt like home, and we tackled driving rain and snowy roads and enjoyed sunny skies. It’s so good to look back now as I say goodbye.

Today there’s a pretty little gray car in the driveway, replacing the red one, and it’s even a six-speed manual.

It’s a lovely car, and it’ll be part of a whole new set of adventures as I make my last month of college commutes and look beyond. Even as I enjoy it, I remember with fondness the memories made around that little red car I’ll never forget.

MARTHA HOFFMAN, is a freelance writer and diversified livestock farmer in rural Earlville.

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