Almost four years ago we bought a new Ford Focus so our soon-to-be-driving daughter would have a dependable car that got reasonably good gas mileage and wasn’t too expensive to insure. I drove it for the first year, and then turned it over to our girl on her 16th birthday. That also happened to be when I bought and began riding a motorcycle. So, I didn’t miss the car much except on rainy Seattle days.
Seeing a relatively new car become a teenager’s car can be difficult. Underinflated tires, new scratches in the paint, coffee stains on the seats, and a strange food-ish smell were just some of the things that made me cringe from time to time. I did my best to mechanically maintain the car and buy new windshield wipers and tires when the old ones didn’t look safe. Most of that happened without her knowledge.
Our daughter recently gave the car back. She is going to college now, and parking a car on the University of Washington campus is expensive. So, she recently said that she no longer needs the car. I used it to drop her off at school three nights ago, and then drove home on a dark, rainy night. I was too sad to notice anything about the car.
It was raining the next day, so I drove the car to work. Looking around the car’s interior when I reached the first stop light was a little like stumbling across an archeological dig. The leftovers of her life in this car were all around me. I was a little angry at first, but I soon came to appreciate the discoveries I made. Its four days later, and I’ve pretty much cleared out the car. These are the things I found:
- 12 candy wrappers (mostly mints)
- An unopened granola bar
- An excused absence slip from Bothell High School
- 3 rolls of toilet paper in the trunk
- A pair of leopard spot sunglasses
- $3.92 (made up entirely of quarters and pennies)
- Melted wax in the center storage compartment
- A blue plastic bottle cap
- 4 gum wrappers
- Two coffee receipts
- Three plastic coffee cup lids
- A rock concert advertisement that was torn from an alternative weekly newspaper
- A completely used lipstick
- A crumpled Bothell High School window decal
- 4 bootleg music CDs (too scratched and dirty to ever play again)
- A handful of paper napkins
- A Nordstrom’s sales tag for something that cost $36.
- The faint smell of what might be interpreted as cigarette smoke
Part of me, the rational part, knows that this stuff is mostly garbage and should be thrown away, but another part of me wants to keep it all. I imagine myself putting all of it in freezer bags and saving it for later examination.