I could not even drive yet, but I was already in love with my soon-to-be baby. Before even having my driver's permit, I knew that my mom's car would be handed down to me so that she could get a new one, and that I would have something to drive. She was perfect! A grey 2011 Honda Accord with leather seats and a cute "Life is Good" bumper sticker. It was the perfect car for me - nice and small, low to the ground, had an aux cord (VERY important), heated seats, and has been loved for roughly 70,000 miles. On my 16th birthday, June 16, 2016, I went to the DMV with my mom to take my permit test… and passed! Six months later on December 7th, I was all ready to take my test… and passed! Unfortunately, it was bad weather outside, so my parents refused to let me actually drive the car until weeks later. But, it did not keep me from running through the snow, putting the key in the ignition, and listening to throwback songs on full volume at midnight when my best friend slept over that night.

Not too many weeks later, the day finally came where I could drive it. I drove to school for the first time, and being as nervous as I am, I was extremely cautious. From there, I drove to Starbucks, and before I knew it I was getting used to the Merritt Parkway - my first time driving on the highway. The car taught me how to drive - all of my firsts happened in that Accord.

Even after becoming comfortable driving, it became a place that would soon hold many personal experiences. Tears were shed - some of my biggest breakdowns happened in the car, like a safe space. It was my own little home away from home. Some of my funniest moments - singing songs at the top of our lungs, being followed by crazy people from school, picking up new and old friends. Picking people up has become the new way to hang out - my car was a communal spot. Driving around for no reason at all with people jammed in your back seat, making your own fun is what it is all about. My mom used the car to drive her and I to Maryland, Delaware, and Pennsylvania for a college road trip… this car brought me to UMD for the first time, a place I would soon call my home.

Getting Colony pizza and sitting in the parking lot of Sasco beach, bringing my best friend food at work every Saturday night, many, MANY trips through the McDonalds drive-thru, road trips to Westbrook, Christmas lights drives, challenging trips home in the pouring rain, learning my favorite new songs....but soon, it would all come to an end.

On May 22nd, I crashed my baby. Hopping in the car after school on a rainy, gloomy, day, my best friend and I were barely a half a mile off of school property when two cars ahead of me stopped short to make a turn, forcing my car to stop, but, as much as it tried, it could not. It was completely my fault - it is the result of becoming a little too comfortable with your driving skills. Even in bumper to bumper after school traffic, I should have given more wiggle room. It was barely the feeling of a quick bump, but when I got out, the metal twisted and pushed into different parts of the hood made me feel sick. I was confused, sad, embarrassed, and unsure of what to think. Despite the officer telling me it would be okay and that accidents happen, I found out a few days later it was totaled. So I drove to the garage to remove my things, take the plates, and say goodbye.

Do I sound dramatic? Yes. It's just a car, I know. A car is a material item… I should be leaving the situation happy that I am okay and that it was not a worse situation. But, with that said, I just cannot help but carry an immense feeling of regret… I failed the place I could always rely on to feel safe. What is important is to learn from those mistakes. It is just a car. It is just a car. The memories made inside it were ones I will forever cherish, but who's to say more can't be made in any other piece of metal with wheels? What I learned was valuable, I learned it the hard way and unfortunately, the most effective way. I am sorry, my little grey car, but I am so thankful for everything you gave me and taught me on our (many) journeys together.