trading up


I told you about Penelope yesterday. She’s had a strange effect on me. To fully understand and appreciate Penelope, you need to know about Moon Unit.

Moon Unit is a grey 2000 Saturn SL1. The car was a little boring so I named it after a Zappa. I acquired Moon Unit after my aunt accidentally backed into the grey Ford Tempo I had been driving. (I still feel bad for parking behind you, Beth.) When I got Moon Unit, she had 40,000ish miles. Now that I’ve put her up for sale, she’s nearing 160,000 miles. That’s a lot of history in a car.

And I’ve neglected her. I wasn’t faithful with oil changes. There was the lemon meringue pie incident where the pie didn’t set (frustrating!) and then I turned left too quickly and the pie sloshed out of the pan all over the back seat. There were other spills and a random accumulation of stains and hard knocks. I hit a deer. And then I hit another deer. And a nice woman backed into my car in the laundromat parking lot and I didn’t turn it into insurance because I knew the woman didn’t have a lot of money to pay the deductible. And the engine sounds like a helicopter and the car rattles just enough to make you question your sanity.

Changing from Moon Unit to Penelope is RIDICULOUS. Penelope was spotless when I got her. There’s a dent on the back bumper and a couple scratches on the outside, but this car runs awesome. The music doesn’t have to be quite as loud to drown out all the rumbling noises. I can go through a drive through and know the person on the other end of the speaker can hear my order. I don’t have random men at the gas station telling me my car doesn’t sound that good. My mom isn’t worried I will break down in the cold Iowa winter on some back road or interstate.

This is night and day stuff for me.

It’s a chance to start over with a new (to me) car. I vow to keep it clean and well maintained. And this time I really mean it.

I think we all need to trade in a Moon Unit for a Penelope sometime. We all need a fresh start and a new perspective. I will savor rolling the odometer over to six digits again. I will not transport pies without lids in the backseat. The no gummy candy rule is back in full effect. Schnurr will not get to put her nametag on the dashboard.

I doubt I would appreciate the newness of a clean, healthy car without knowing the trepidation and anxiety of road tripping in the old, beat up, run down car.

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