My first car was a black Acura Integra. I inherited the car by default, as not giving me the car would have resulted in several trips back and forth from Arkansas to Illinois for my folks as they shuttled me to and fro college. They opted to just give the car. And it was a hot car. Not hot, as in stolen, but H.O.T. My dad brought it home brand new one day in 1993 while we were still living in Houston, and it became my definition of a mid-life crisis. I supported it. Black leather interior, moon roof, rear spoiler, manual transmission. Loved that car.
It went from Houston to Little Rock, to Decatur, Illinois. I inherited it in 1995 as I cruised off to my first year of college. Ahhh, the stories that it could have told. So I took it from Decatur, Illinois, back to a small city called Conway, Arkansas, where I was attending college. That car took us on many camping trips in the Ozarks, many beer runs in wet counties, music festivals in Memphis, concerts in Little Rock, and summer adventures in New Hampshire. It got me through a blizzard in Illinois on my way to school one year. It carried instruments for band gigs. It carried many, many friends.
It used to have a sticker in the back window that simply said: SHUVIT. Haha. Loved that sticker. My definition of cool was a bit different back then. I won't even describe the other stickers back there; think green, leafy. There were cigarette burns in the leather seats and permanent stains on the carpets. It was well used.
That car came with me to the desert as I was attempting to restart my life. The air conditioner died a few summers after I moved here, but the car kept going. Man, I loved that car, and the day I traded it in was so bittersweet. I had owned that car for years by the time I had traded it in. It had been driven cross-country and had resided in four different states. It had been with me through many a rough day, and many a joyous celebration. It had been egged, wrecked, rear-ended, hydroplaned, and well-driven through the years.
Tonight I saw a car that could have been my old car, and I was just flooded with emotion over how far God has brought me. How He has healed me, restored me, and chosen to use me. The days of that old Acura seemed so far away, almost forgotten, and yet just a mere glance at it tonight reminded me of so much. An old college roommate whom I still love dearly, a band formed out of a group of friends wanting to do something fun for an "open mic night," a camping trip with about 15 friends to sing and dance and howl at the moon all night. It's amazing the things that we forget, and how easily they come back to mind.
Today is my birthday. I am now 33. Mercy, that sounds older than I feel. I was 18 years old when I inherited that car, and somehow, back then, I thought that a person in her 30's must surely feel like an adult. And yet I don't still. I keep wondering when I will ever grow up. Now I'm in this place where I have to deal with pimples, wrinkles, and grey hair all at the same time, and I keep wondering who had the grand idea of putting me in charge of three other precious little lives? Really, was that the best idea?
And yet, here I am. Sitting in an adult body, that time and babies have taken their toll on, with a mind that still struggles with insecurities and doubts, wondering if the day will ever come that I might, just might, have a clue. And as much as I struggle to be a good parent and example to my girls, I love them more than my own life. Isn't life interesting? It always seems to me that the more I learn and the more I explore, the more I realize I do not know. The older I get, the smaller I feel in the grand scheme of it all. And yet I am known by the Creator of it all.
15 years ago, when I inherited that sweet little car, I was a mess of a human being, reeling in the aftermath of a rape, drowning myself in booze and any drug that would numb the pain. I had no idea of the love of Christ, as I was pretty sure He has abandoned me altogether. But God had plans. And He pursued me as only the hound of Heaven could. And the year that I drove that hot, little black car to the desert, I knew things were to bound to change, but I had no idea how drastically. Y'all, He is just so good.
It was fun to see that car tonight. It was like a slide show flashed through my mind of all the memories that the car carried. And how far God has carried me since.