She was an impulse buy, but I never regretted the pale green Prius with its custom red and purple interior. Red was Natalie’s pick and I wanted purple, so we compromised in the fashion of Peter Max and went all in. Leather. Two-toned. And a sun roof. And tomorrow they are coming to take her away.

A couple of years ago I bought a new replacement Prius. It was a pretty blue, with amazing cargo space. Great for making a bed in the back, lots of room. Then I went all hermit crab and changed my mind.

You see, I had hermit crabs growing up and one of them was way too big for his shell. We gave him several alternative new shell-homes and he spent hours measuring and sizing up the situation. Finally after an eternity, and I should know because I watched the whole thing [as children before cable TV and the internet did way back when]…. after a hella long time he moved himself in. His body was rudimentary, and so vulnerable that I understood why he prepared so diligently. Didn’t want to make a mistake. He stayed in his new shell just long enough to say to himself – “oh, nooo, nooo this feels all wrong” (not sure why my crab had the voice of Mr. Bill but he did)….then he high- tailed it back to his old shell and never again entertained such foolery.

I was like that with the Prius…gave the new one to Natalie and kept my green thing. There were just too many memories to let her go.

I drove my kids to school in that car. With a pig. They all fit in the back and when I had to make a sudden stop I’d yell, “Hold the pig.”  otherwise his mass would send him flying  into the front seat. Even after he quit commuting with us (pigs keep growing and get too grouchy for driving around in cars) I’d forget and yell “Hold the pig, hold the pig.” It was just a thing.

My kids are almost all grown-up and now I’m losing this car, my friend, my symbol of all those years – poof. Totaled in a quick, lazy moment of not paying close enough attention. I killed her by accident, and it’s too late to do anything but empty her contents through years of tears and memories and move on.

I used to parallel park her like nobody’s business. With her small size and the camera on the back, I could maneuver her into spaces two sizes too small. I took pictures of my parking. An inch in the front and two in the back. We were on fire, legends in the world of tight-fitting parking spaces. Friends would gasp. OK, Facebook friends would gasp, but that counts.

Got a Volvo now. Harsh and gold and pre-broken in, since 1988….I cant go back, and I dread tomorrow. It feels like a betrayal, sending her off to be junked. If I could keep a seat or even a bumper, I’d steal a piece of her. But her driving days are finished.

She never broke down and never gave up. I smashed her one last time, so it’s good night, Irene (that was her name). I’ll see you in my dreams, if I’m lucky enough. I’ll meet you over the rainbow bridge, my beautiful custom car. I’m sorry I didn’t see the car stopped in front of us. I’m sorry I was careless. It’s a good thing no one was hurt but you. You took all the impact and kept me from harm. Thank you green Prius. With a lump in my throat for a car…a CAR….but not just any car. Mine.

I am thinking I need a support group to get over this. That’s how hard it’s hitting me. I hate support and I hate groups, so its quite a thing to need both over the death of a car.

In my imaginary support group everyone understands the loss I feel, the sadness, the horror of letting go knowing she’s gonna be ripped to bits and crunched up into scrap. Someone writes a poem. There’s kleenex. And refreshments.

Tomorrow I will take some last pictures, and maybe find a way to save a bit of leather. Maybe I’ll make a little shrine. Or do something multimedia (car, carpet and paper, by Maria Steelman)prius

One thing I know is, I’ll be more careful. Cuz someone really could have gotten hurt.