An Ode To My First Car

An Ode To My First Car

I just sold my first car, and it was a bittersweet moment for me.

I got my first car the summer before my junior year of high school. I had picked it out myself. It was a white, 1990 Chevrolet K-1500, single cab, long bed, 5.7L, V8. All stock. It was so old that it had a cassette player in it. My parents warned me about getting an old car, about the maintenance and constant up-keep it would need. I knew what I was getting into, and when I finally shook hands with the previous owner, I couldn't have been happier.

That summer involved fine tuning the truck, which I so happily named Willie Mae. She got new lock cylinders, ignition switch, shocks, tires, exhaust, new stickers, a radio, the works. I spent days getting everything to sound just right, and I never once regretted the time I spent working on her.

I couldn't wait to drive my truck over to my old high school sweetheart's house and show him my new ride. He thought it was too much truck for such a little girl, but I didn't care. I was so in love with the truck, and I wanted everyone to know it.

All I did was talk about my truck and how old it was and all the work I was constantly putting into it. I drove it to car meets and helped my parents do yard work with it. I fit two ATVs on it, along with my toolbox and flagpole, and I would whisper words of encouragement anytime I'd have to get on the highway.

I could only seat three people, even though two barely fit comfortably. My poor ex-boyfriend was 6'3" and had to sit at an angle, or with his knees tucked up to his chest because I needed the seat to be all the way forward in order to reach the pedals. Some days, it felt like I couldn't properly see over the dashboard, reminding me that I installed 3" torsion keys to raise the front end of the truck.

When school started, my mom and I talked to the principal if I could park in front of the auto-shop at my school, so I had space to fit my truck, and since he was cool with the both of us, he gave me permission to do so. That started a war at my school. People constantly harassed me for parking there. I had my spot, which was directly in front of one of the auto-shop bay doors. If someone parked in my spot, I'd raise hell. I'd have a security guard come and make them move their car. Sure, I was a brat about it, but if you parked in the same spot every day, and suddenly someone took it, you'd be heated too.

My truck was loud, after having done a full cat-delete and simply welded a three foot straight pipe on it. It attracted a lot of attention, and people began recognizing me by my truck. They would say, "oh you're the girl with the truck," and after a while, it started to feel like I was being targeted. I started getting dirty looks from people, and a lot of the girls didn't seem to like me either.

I took a lot of pride in my truck. Sure, I stood out like a sore thumb, and I was always being called rude and inappropriate things because of it, but I loved my truck. I took her mudding, even though the 4x4 wasn't meant for off-roading. My parents would yell at me, but at the end of the day, I still had a great time.

When I moved to Tallahassee, we had to put Willie Mae on a trailer, since she would have never made the eight hour drive. Touching down in Tallahassee, I knew things would be different. I would take long, aimless drives through the town, and would find myself on winding trails and in what can be considered the "countryside" of Tallahassee. Friends I'd made would show me cool dirt trails I could take the truck out to, and I'd do so by myself, when I needed an escape.

When the weather would cool down, I found myself more and more in love with the truck. The breeze would blow in through the windows and it felt like my soul was riding the breeze alongside my truck. I felt free and all my troubles would melt away, until Easter weekend.

I drove my truck up to Cairo, GA, to visit my friend for Easter weekend, since I wouldn't be able to go home for the holiday. I only had four miles to go before I reached her house, and then the engine blew. My radiator hose popped, the head gasket blew, the truck decelerated, and I was left on the side of the road with my dog for a few hours until I could get my truck trailed back to my place.

I knew it was the end. It would be too expensive to replace the parts and I didn't have the money nor the time for it. So I put up a post on Craigslist and LetGo to sell Willie Mae. For six months, I would pass by my truck in my apartment complex, sitting in the same spot, breaking my heart every time, knowing there was nothing I could do.

I finally sold her, to a hard-working man that needed a reliable work truck, and within twenty minutes, the paperwork was signed, the cash was in my hand, and Willie Mae was making her way to a little town in Georgia. It was over. I felt relieved, but I couldn't help crying a bit. That truck held more memories and secrets than a diary. That truck was my escape from the real world, and I fixed her up with my blood, sweat, and tears, and she was finally gone.

Days go by when I think I see Willie Mae, her flag blowing in the breeze, and the smell of the coconut air freshener I always had hanging from the rearview. I know she's putting in work on some farm in Georgia after having gotten all new parts installed. She made me happy and provided me with a piece of my identity, and I hated seeing her go, but I loved watching her leave.

So long, Willie Mae.

Cover Image Credit: Elisa Nunez-Rodriguez

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The University of Tennessee Unwillingly Hosts White Supremacy Group

The University of Tennessee is home sweet home to ALL because being a Vol includes ALL!

Imagine this, you're at home and someone knocks on your door. You answer the door and the person behind it tricks you into inviting them inside under this facade of meaning no harm. Once inside, the facade disappears and the once pleasant dialogue you hoped to engage in turns to one of hatred of everything about you because you are not like them.

This is the University of Tennessee in a nutshell.

Home to a plethora of diverse people, our campus was deceived and under the impression that a church had reserved a space in McClung Museum for a lecture. Not long after this, the name of the group reserving the space had changed to one which was connected to a white supremacy group known as the Traditional Workers Party. The change in organization turned what was believed to be an unharming lecture into one filled with hatred for a great majority of the university's population.

Before the news of the group coming to campus broke, the Rock, our school's free speech news board, was vandalized with hatred and symbols by the TWP. Some students were so upset by this act they took to Twitter to implore Chancellor Davenport to speak up against this and do something.

In the weeks leading up to this event being held on Saturday, Feb. 17, Chancellor Davenport has addressed the school in multiple emails in regards to racism and hate speech. The emails display a sense of intolerance of the hate speech displayed on the Rock and in general regarding the group's visit to the university.

On Friday, Feb. 9, the school showed their disdain for this group and everything they stand for by hosting "United at the Rock Against Racism." At the event, hundreds of students came together to demonstrate the love, unity, and acceptance that UT has to offer all of its students.

With the event happening this Saturday, the university has taken steps to prepare and protect its students. The TWP's meeting that was originally set in McClung Museum will now be held in Buehler Hall on the Hill. The event will have extreme safety measures in place for the protection of all involved.

When I first found out about this event, I was shocked and discouraged. Rocky Top is home to myself and so many other diverse people that I call my friends. I find free speech to be incredibly important, but when its point is to bring harm and dehumanize students at this university, my university, I find an issue with it.

The TWP goes against everything this university stands for and allowing them on campus in some way is a stain on the school's reputation. I hope that in the future incidents like this are resolved in a different way and that no student should feel as though their very being on this campus is being jeopardized by anyone.

The University of Tennessee is home sweet home to ALL because being a Vol includes ALL!

Cover Image Credit: WUTK on Instagram

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To My Childhood Home

Thank you for raising me.

You've been part of my entire existence; in fact, your construction was completed before I even entered the world. You welcomed me with open arms the day I was brought home from the hospital. You witnessed my first slumber, bath, and cries as a newborn. You coached me to say my first word, and take my first steps. You watched me live an amazing childhood and a wonderful adolescence.

Beyond your walls, you behold the secrets of my family. You've heard our laughs, seen our family traditions, and embraced our quirks. You've probably felt alarmed when we were going through rough times. You endured the physical weight of bringing a puppy into the picture.

Although you may have gone through cosmetic changes throughout the years, every time I walk in I still get the same feeling. You've made me feel like I have a safe haven - a place to clear my head. A place to protect me from the sorrows and bitterness that the outside world can put upon you. A place to inspire ambition, innovation, and creativity.

I can remember spending countless days curled up reading a book, writing stories in journals, or looking out the window watching the time pass by. I can remember sitting on the kitchen floor soaking up the warmth from the afternoon sun, or being surrounded by blankets keeping warm by the fireplace. I can remember being sick and watching movies all day on the couch. I can remember doing homework and other tasks at the kitchen table.

I cannot thank you enough for shaping how I grew up. I cannot thank you for raising me to become strong and healthy. I cannot thank you enough for supporting me in my rough times of my mental illness. I cannot thank you enough for keeping my family together and stronger than ever.

You let me play as a child. I kept all of my stuffed animals and imaginary friends in your hands. You protected me from the scary monsters in the closet and under the bed. You gave me peace knowing that I was able to come to a warm bed every night.

My room will always be my favorite. It's biased and cliche, yes, but it was a sacred space. It masked my tears and my panic attacks. It's known many dreams and nightmares. It's full of privacy, yet open at the same time.

When I left for college, I didn't realize how much I would miss you. It was a hard adjustment period, and I was left out in the real world. Unfortunately, if I had a problem or a bad day, I couldn't come back to you. Life had to go on. What kept me going was coming back for holidays.

When I did come back, I was so surprised by how different it felt. I felt like a hotel guest, rather than a permanent resident. I felt like I didn't belong anymore. I felt like I was messing up a beautiful canvas. It was haunting to see if there were changes, or lack of them.

Then I realized that you didn't change, I have. It was a scary, yet exhilarating realization. I couldn't wait to share the new person that I had become. It showed me that change is good, and it's okay to go to a stable environment. You've helped me spread my wings to fly on my own.

When I heard the news that my family was moving, I was devastated. My heart cracked into multiple pieces. It felt like part of me was missing. Moving is a part of life; I can't stay in the same place forever, no matter how much it hurts, I reminded myself. No matter how much reassurance I gave, all I saw was the life as I know it ending.

I began to envision mountains of cardboard boxes, moving trucks, and empty rooms. I began to see for sale signs, strangers from open houses, and garage sales. My childhood began to slip away. It was almost as if I was running, unable to catch up to it. I became breathless by this reality.

To be honest, I'm very selfish. I don't want to leave you. I'm afraid that the next residents will abuse you; take advantage of you. It's funny because I always have a huge craving for wanderlust but always have thought that you would be permanent. You've been the only constant in my life and I'm afraid of change.

I'm afraid that I won't like this new place. It's going to take some getting used to since you've been in my life for 20 years. I promise to remember every little detail of you and to keep your memory alive. I promise to never forget you. You're more than just a house; you're my home forever.

My heart will sink when you're sold. I'm going to bite my tongue when I see my parents selling old, but meaningful possessions. I'm going to have to prohibit myself from fighting with the people who are putting my old belongings into their cars. My stomach will be uneasy at your emptiness. I'm going to cry like a baby when I take one last glimpse of you before I get into the car. The tears will worsen when I look one more time in the rear-view mirror as we drive away.

I'm writing this to thank you for everything. You were my dream childhood house, and I couldn't imagine growing up somewhere else. You will always be part of me, and hold a special place in my heart. It's going to be difficult to let go, but I know that you're going to bring light and love to the next family that comes along.

To my childhood home, I love you so much.

Cover Image Credit: Bruce Mars

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