I was a Junior in high school when we met. There was an ad in the paper under used cars (remember those days?) and my mom and I went to test her out. Her first and only owner no longer needed her and I fell in love instantly. The wheel didn't veer to the left or right when I let her go, she was quiet and smooth, comfortable and light in color, a must in the Texas heat. We bought her for $8,000 on the spot, me paying half from jobs I had held for the last three years, birthday and allowance money. She was worth every penny and I filled her to the brim with friends on the way to swim practice and recyclables on the way home from coaching and lifeguarding.
I sadly but proudly left her behind when I left for college, a mere year and a half after I found her. Living without a car for most of five years was a rewarding and freeing experience some days and a stifling experience other days. Had she been with me, I might have explored the length and width of Wisconsin more than I did. I might have visited my grandmother and grandfather's dairy farm more often and swum in the frigid waters of Lake Michigan. But living without a car made me happy and I didn't see a point in driving her the entire length of the United States, South to North.
Oh, how that would change years later. I graduated college in 2007 but didn't get my first "real" job in my chosen field until early 2009. The second epic road trip of my life happened on the way to work off the Washington coast that February. (The first big road trip was to Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Arches and back a year or two earlier.) An almost straight-through drive from Madison to Seattle occurred with stops in Wall Drug, South Dakota and snow-covered Badlands, ghost towns in Montana and right to left thorough the gradual changing landscape of Washington state. Unfortunately, that was sans-Lucinda. It wasn't until exactly one year later that I embarked upon the first of all my epic road trips with my trusty vehicle.
I was offered a position as Environmental Educator in bum-fu** nowhere Northwest corner of Connecticut in 2010. I was nervous to live in a house with only a wood stove for heat, to drive in the wintery and wiley North as I had never had to do it before and to generally live without internet, a big city or much of a social life. Luckily, I came around to how wonderful it would all be and packed up the car with not a lot of stuff for the next chapter of my professional and personal life. Lucinda brought me out of Texas before a strong storm hit and into Memphis for some Elvis exposure, then on to D.C. for some culture. What didn't I see in D.C.? I parked the car at a motel miles outside of the center to save money and walked a solid fifteen miles the two days I was in town to truly see it all. But the time Lucinda and I left, I was so full of sights that I skipped Philly's charms.
This led me to arrive near my new home an entire day early. Without knowing anyone in the area and it being February, I was unable to camp, so I spent my first night cocooned in Lucy's back seat. She kept me warm and safe that night in a church parking lot. When I awoke the next morning, I found that she lost her winter virginity. Snow covered both of us, a beautiful sight. Living in Connecticut was my first foray into the East and I've (almost) never looked back.
Each weekend in CT, we were off to explore all the nooks and crannies of the state and those surrounding it. New York and Massachusetts were just a stone's throw away behind the wheel of my trusty steed as well as the coast. She took me to see a rare White-tailed Kite down in Stratford, to Bash Bish Falls within the Taconic Mountains to snap a photo that hangs on my wall to this day and to Thomas Cole's home in the Catskills to see what he saw when he painted. I may have started to develop my deeper love of favorite foods here at the shops in Kent, CT too. There as one in particular, at Belgique Chocolate, that has stuck in my mind, long after they closed their doors a month before I left town for good. I can still see the shapes and taste the flavors and wish I had some in front of me.
Lucinda brought me home to Texas, by way of Niagara Falls and Madison, ten months after I left Austin. I bummed around the city for a few months before accepting a job in Maine, another unknown and undiscovered place for the two of us to share. For some reason, this whole trip is less memorable but no less meaningful as it brought me to the state I've called home for almost six years now. In the interview for the new job, I jokingly but honestly asked if the fact that I don't eat lobsters disqualified me for the position in Maine (They are so damn cute! See "Finding Lust at the Brewery" blog post from 5/16/2014).
Despite this fact, I got the job, the first of many in Maine. It was one for the books with 14 hour work days spent with students, homemade food for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and little personal time. Though it was only a three month-long position, it cemented my adoration for this state and from Saco, Lucinda helped me I find my way to Portland. The first time we visited, I parked 75 feet from what is now the building I live in. And this is the fourth residence I've had since moving here so by pure coincidence life has come full circle.
In between fun and rewarding, frustrating and low-paying jobs, I took long road trips out West. To Glacier National Park and to Seattle, to see the Redwoods and back to Arches National Park I went. Lucinda as strong as ever. I've since slept in her back seat a few times since that first trip and even though I'm six feet tall, she keeps me cozy and comfortable. We've traveled to Colorado to see my favorite aunt for the last time and up to Canada four times in one year. She carries my bike and my clutter, my happiness and my sorrow. What else can one ask of their partner in crime? She's 20 years old this year and has never served me better. I hope to ride her into the ground, a decade from now. May we explore evermore.
Update from last blog (2/5/2017): I got the house, I got the beautiful tattoo, I was asked to speak at one of the events while the other was postponed and in a twist of fate, I didn't see the potential in the men. C'est la vie! On to the next.