A Bittersweet Goodbye {a tribute to my 97 toyota tercel}

I was on the way to yoga on Thursday night when my car decided she was just too old.

(Yes, my car is definitely a she. Go ahead, ask her.)

As we—my car, Jessica and me—forged down the street, my 97 Toyota Tercel jerked, shook and begged for help in the form of a flashing check engine light.

We were almost to the studio and as we pulled into the parking lot, I was sure she wasn’t going to make it back home.

Needless to say, it was kind of hard to get into the “yoga zone” when I knew my car might not start after the class ended.

Between each deep breath, a new worry popped into my head.

Breathe In.

What if it doesn’t start?

Breathe Out.

What if we break down in the middle of the road…again?

Breathe In.

I was SO excited for leftover Turkish food after class!

Hold Breath.

Yes, that last one is for real. Priorities, people.

By the end of the class, even though yoga helped me feel a little calmer about the situation, I was still anxious to get outside and get home.

Miraculously, we made it. But I’m pretty sure that’s it for my car.

I’ve had her since I was 20. She was my first real car. Deep green, with two doors, hand-crank windows and lock-it-yourself locks, she’s been trouble from the start.

I bought her used off the side of the road smack-dab in the middle of a New York winter. When my mom told me to make sure the air conditioner worked, I flipped the switch and enthusiastically said Yes! There’s cold air coming out!


(In case you’re wondering, the air conditioner has never worked.)

The battery died the first weekend I had her. I discovered the oil leak not long after that. The windshield wiper fluid has never come out…ever. So I’ve resorted to pouring the fluid over the windshield myself and hoping for the best.

I really can’t complain. I didn’t pay much for her in 2008. (We won’t talk about the fact that I’ve more than made up for that fact since.)

Still, up until now, she’s stayed loyal. She’s carried me to countless places: to Albany when I first moved out of my parents’ house, back home during school breaks, back home when I moved back in, to DC when I moved out again. To yoga, to restaurants, to friends’ houses, to the middle of nowhere. To everywhere.

It is with a heavy heart that I’m finally saying goodbye to my sweet, old car. We’ve had a good run (no pun intended).


She’s taken me many places (again, no pun intended). And I’m just a tiny bit embarrassed to be tearing up as I write this.

Goodbye, Tercel. You were my first love car and you’ll be greatly missed.

Tell me about your first car and how you parted with her (or him).

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    1. Dara, she’s not completely dead yet (<--that seemed odd to type), but I can't see putting anymore money into fixing her and she's not safe to drive. I've decided to wait until the new year to decide what to do about it.

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