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Roadway in the rain and in the forestThis has been in my drafts for a long time. Now seems like the perfect moment to finally share.

The first love of my life was Jose.

We found each other when I was 22-years old. Fresh out of college, I felt excited about the future. Although I had to temporarily move back home, I couldn’t wait to get the first taste of freedom and being on my own. We first met at a firefighter’s home in the backyard. He was quiet and standing off to a corner as I approached.

Unfortunately my dad was with me so sparks didn’t fly immediately. But a few days later we were in my neighborhood, whizzing past trees and enjoying the summer sunshine together. Years went by and we road tripped all over the east coast together, conquering music festivals, vacations, seeing old friends and oftentimes ending our days driving off into the sunset.

Love on four wheels

Anyways I loved that damned car. Jose was my 1999 Honda Civic coupe. Jet black, sporty, a little manly (tricked out by the firefighter) but all mine. Maybe it was partly because I had no wheels most of my teenage years, so I was drunk on the possibilities of getting myself around on my own. Maybe the super weird, slightly anthropomorphic obsession was from the thrilling excursions up and down the east coast, clocking thousands of miles and countless unforgettable road trips.

It’s amazing what we saw together. Long stretches of smooth pavement in western Massachusetts slicked down by pouring rain. Whizzing under massive bridge structures crossing over the border into New York state. Navigating a blizzard to make it back to my old college campus to visit friends in the dead of winter. Heading down to Virginia to meet old friends, get  a tattoo and shoot off fireworks down south. Watching city skylines come into view and getting tingles of adventure in unknown destinations.

I never considered getting rid of the car, because it almost always ran like a dream, saved me a ton of money on gas and was just about perfect for my hot mess life. I didn’t have a car payment, I didn’t have to worry about the occasional ding and I rarely had to bring Jose to a mechanic in confusion either.

Then, we decided to move to London.

The end of an eraDriving over a bridge in the northeast, USA

Giving up Jose was weirdly sad. I was torn for a while about what to do – should I sell? He was a bit beat up at this point, almost 8 years later. Should I scrap it in some blaze of glory? Or find another use?

Luckily, I have a teenager in my life who deserved a gift. He’s one of my brest friend’s little brothers and practically my own little brother in turn. But his 18th birthday was around the corner, I was moving across the pond and I remember how badly I wanted to drive when I was in high school. So we shined Jose up, but a big banner on the front hood and surprised the teen one glorious summer day. He immediately hopped behind the wheel with me in the passenger seat and I felt like a proud parent. Then I felt like a terrified parent when I tried to teach him how to drive stick shift – he picked it up quick but that didn’t make my heart race any less.

Hearing the news

A few month later, I got word from my friend that her brother was in an accident. My heart sank to the ground, worried for his safety and not knowing any details. Thank goodness him and his friend came away from the crash in one piece, which really is all that matters. But Jose was not so fortunate. The car was totaled.

Sitting 2,000 miles away from all this happening has been odd and hit me in a dream-like way. It’s tough to say goodbye to things that represent some incredible memories in your life. Especially for me, Jose was the first thing that let me start exploring the world on my own. Before I left the country, it’s how I wandered solo and explored new places.

So, officially it’s goodbye to Jose, and hello to a new ca-less, walkable life in the heart of London. Our bond was strong, but now it’s time to move on.

What was your first car? Where did you go on your first road trip?



Author EileenCotterWright

Eileen Cotter Wright is a Boston, MA local and a former London, UK expat. Despite losing her passport the first day she left her home country, she's continued to roam the earth with gusto for more than 16 years. You can keep up with her hot mess adventures on Instagram @CrookedFlight.

More posts by EileenCotterWright

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