You didn’t have me at hello. In fact, I’m pretty sure I hated you for a while. All your faults were clear to me: high mileage, crappy power steering, blown-out bass, and a terrible tendency to guzzle gas at the same rate that I paid for it.
So, yes, honestly, I didn’t like you that much. I had these dreams of a beautiful Maserati or Corvette, heck, even a nice Chevy; but not you. I didn’t want a truck from the 90’s with skin cancer, bald tires, and a sticky clutch.
But this is a love letter, right? Because somewhere along the way, I fell in love with that cruddy little truck. No, I don’t think the over-inflated springs jounced me into a friendship with you. It came from a deeper sense of self.
It may have been one the nights where my self-esteem neared rock-bottom, as I desperately tried to get you to start. As I killed the engine for the sixth time because I was still learning to drive stick. As I looked behind me and saw the frustrated stares of the people waiting to pass me.
I realized that I wasn’t perfect—I was someone trying to get from point A to point B in a tin can on wheels. When I saw that, despite your outer blemishes and internal creaks and groans, you still were there, still performed, still gave it your all (even when you died at the stop signs), I loved you.
You and I were cut from the same cloth (or steel). We were both at different legs of our journey; I was moving up in the world, excited about life, all the new opportunities to improve myself. You were moving closer to Automotive Nirvana—your heyday had come and gone, probably on the Chicago highways under the steering of my grandfather. The engine under your hood had been rebuilt, your tires and oil changed more times than anyone could count. Creeping up on a half-million miles isn’t a sign of youth.
I realized that we were passing in age. You were a means to my end, and I was someone driving you closer to yours. You could resent me for that (if you weren’t just a truck) but I felt as if we bonded over it. I didn’t have the ability to buy a nicer vehicle, and you didn’t have the ability to find a different driver. We took what we had and made the best of it.
And so, this letter. I owe you a lot. You have dealt with a difficult driver, loud music, speeding, heavy loads of luggage and farm equipment. You have felt your gears ground as I shifted incorrectly.
But for every bad time, there is a good one to balance it. We spent many afternoons flying down country backroads with reckless abandon, just the two of us, feeling like free men, owing nothing to anyone.
When your engine finally dies, which is getting closer every day, that’s how I’ll remember you: not the perfect vehicle of my dreams. Far from it. You will be the beast of burden that gave me my first taste of real freedom, the transportation to every significant event of my senior year of high school. You won’t ever be “just a truck.” You’re my truck. And I love you.