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Saying goodbye to the dearly replaced

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When I arrived home in the eggplant-hued Toyota 4Runner my parents ever-so-generously allowed to me drive on Wednesday night, best friend Morgan in the passenger seat and tunes by The Killers spewing through the airwaves, it was not long before I made discovery of two slightly interesting fresh facts about my life.

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First, my pupils dilated in awe at the new (to this particular driveway) Subaru Impreza, topped with a large golden bow, chillin' -- actually, it wasn't so much chilling as outright shivering with bitter frigidity -- by the back door.

Second, after threatening the future usefulness of Miss Morgan's eardrums (sorry, darlin' -- I'll pay you back in super long, skinny scarves!), I realized that both my savings and checking accounts were, to be blunt, entirely depleted.

I hope gas prices aren't planning on hiking up anytime soon. My new debit card isn't good for much beyond sitting in my wallet and looking pretty.

After being licensed two years and 12 days, making approximately 16,000 left-turns, cruising around the lake maybe 15 times, causing two parking lot mishaps, realizing the engine won't turn on because the car's still in park on at least four occasions, getting stuck in my own driveway once, readily agreeing to give a ride to upwards of three people in a school week (more during the musical's reign), and hearing numberless exclamations about the vast expanse of leg room available when sitting behind a height-deprived driver, I've got my own cherry cobbler-colored car.

(My mother, who, if asked, will likely claim ownership of the car she used my tough-won cash to purchase, rolled her eyes at me when I tried to put that down as the color on my parking permit papers.) Oh, alliteration!

Morgan and I sat in the Impreza for a decent length of time, watching wiper fluid freeze on the windshield, wondering how to make mix tapes for a CD-playerless vehicle, and shouting in shock when I came across the lever that flattens the seat into a horizontal position.

Later that night, when my perhaps 1/18th-as-excited cousin Joya and I rushed bravely into the then 20-below world to pick up Montana from confirmation, we were elated at the prospect of taking our first cruise in the car.

Until I realized that I couldn't unlock the doors.

After a sorrowful plea to my parents, a few pathetic moans as Joya spoke contemptuously to the stubborn car, five minutes of watching my breath freeze while jiggling the latest addition to my cluttered key chain left and right and back and forth in the driver's door, jogging around to the passenger's side, repeating the jiggling, and crawling over the passenger's seat into mine, the enthusiasm returned.

Driving a new car makes me nostalgic for my younger days, when driving was a thrill. I remember getting my license, and not sitting in a driver's seat again for at least a week.

When I finally got the okay to run an errand, I took the opportunity for my first solo drive around the lake -- exhilarated by the freedom, empowered by the realization that seeing a cop car wasn't reason for flustered paranoia, and dispirited at the thought of returning home, not knowing whether I would ever drive again.

I also remember arriving home six or seven months later from the Paint and Glass Store (this was a separate trip, of course), dispirited at returning home with someone else's contact information and a guilty-though-not-remorseful trailer hitch, not knowing whether I would ever drive again.

Car accidents suck. But the colors we picked out for my room look fantastic!

Saying goodbye to the 4Runner that I've spent the past two years in close cahoots with is going to be difficult. Will it understand that I'd never wish to replace it? That the Impreza whose key now hangs on my "Compliments of Johnson Natural Health Care" chain isn't a threat to the relationship we've shared, the laughs we've had, the tears we've cried, the triumphs we've celebrated?

Some of my best moments have taken place in that vehicle. Eating ice cream in the principal's parking spot, driving to Moorhead with my brother intent on finding a jump rope, taking a wrong turn on the way to the library which I live all of two blocks away from (that was this week, actually), driving five teenage girls around when a Spice Girls song came on the radio and realizing that any one of us would still shriek at the chance to "spice up (her) life," yelling at a never-ending red light at the intersection by the middle school after a loooong Les Miz rehearsal...sniffle, sniffle...

Yes, the 4Runner still resides in the garage, but our connection will never be the same with the addition of Cherry Cobbler into my transportation-centered life. They say you never forget your first love, and I won't.

Especially if I don't learn how to unlock the driver's side door.

Thressa Johnson is a senior at Detroit Lakes High School.

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