2016 introduced me to not one but two seasons of carlessness — my first bouts without a vehicle since becoming an adult many moons ago.
These seasons without wheels humbled me. Most of the world lives without cars, after all. I was still among the 1% wealthiest people, even without a car.
Walking to work without a car, I realized how blessed I’ve been over the last decade to have had one. To roam from one coastline to another and zig and zag just about everywhere in between. To take a day trip into the mountains or a yearlong trip into my own personal manifest destiny.
I was fortunate to get a cheap replacement vehicle last summer, but then it failed inspection a few months later. Rather than pour more money into a clunker, I opted to sell that car and then ponder my next steps. I buy a new car then and there without much savings to my name or wait and save up and minimize the impact of a loan, potentially achieving a higher quality vehicle in the process?
Would I buy a new car then and there without much any savings to my name or wait and save up for months and months to minimize the shackles of a loan? Ultimately, I compromised on those extreme options: not purchasing a new vehicle right away, but also not waiting an entire year until I could properly save up and pay for one outright.
A couple weeks ago, I purchased my third vehicle from a place in Nowheresville, North Carolina. And though it’s still early, I think it’s safe to say I’m falling in love with this Juke I’ve named Jude.
Jude’s a crossover, not quite SUV but not quite sedan. He’s got all-wheel drive, a sporty, quirky shape, and a moonroof perfect for breezes and upward stares when the stars come out. He’s quite maneuverable for an almost-SUV and has a little kick in his engine that you wouldn’t expect. When I test drove my first Juke a few months ago, I knew this was the car for me: a versatile vehicle for any season, any locale, and most importantly any adventure.
I took Jude out on our first big adventure last weekend, my first time roaming the Blue Ridge Parkway in months. The last I saw of the Parkway, the orange and yellow leaves were still clutching their limbs, not quite void of strength.
Last weekend, though, the trees stood bare as far as the eye could see, a landscape of gray trunks illuminated by sunlight in the foreground and tuckered in swaths of shadows beyond. A still beautiful scene, though vastly different from the beautiful of three months ago.
It’s been nearly a year since I moved to the mighty Blue Ridge, and the seasons have returned to where I started: cold and barren winter as I wander with a faithful companion on wheels.
I don’t know what the future will hold. How long I’ll call the Blue Ridge home or how long this new fellow named Jude will ferry me through this life. Or how long it’ll take me to pay him off.
I cried buckets when Mitsy left me last year, and I imagine if I shed even a tenth the tears when Jude follows suit someday, it will have all been worth it.
So, here’s to you, Jude:
Here’s to more adventures. More stories. And more buckets of tears.