The last thing I gave away before moving to the Netherlands was our family’s 1994 Ford F150 black truck with maroon leather interior, a tape deck and a ripped out glove compartment.
I learned how to drive with my dad in that truck, going back and forth with him to work at a country club about 30 minutes from home, he as the gardener and me as the new overdressed and underconfident pool snack bar attendant.
As a lanky teen with poor posture, the truck enveloped me and every curb I ran over. It was as clumsy as I was; the companion I needed but was not sure I wanted to have. When I got my license, I would barrel into the high school parking lot and struggling for twenty minutes to fit it into a spot.
My dad also used it for his business which meant every time I opened the door, a spade or a set of gardening shears would fall out. It had endless packs of gum, Q-tips, wintergreen pink mints, and bungie cords on the floor. The back carried a wheelbarrow, rolling forward when I stopped at a red light and whacking the back window as it came. Neither my dad nor I ever bothered to move these things. They were just part of the truck, part of the experience of driving it to the supermarket or to the gym. Whenever I had passengers, I would simply sweep everything off the bucket seat onto the floor and tell them to hop in.
When the pandemic hit, I missed this truck with a sudden intensity that surprised me, not having thought about it for years. I suddenly missed the freedom it allowed me in my teens and throughout my twenties. Something that was at times an inconvenience had become a legacy. The truck from ’94. Still there, still reliable, still inefficient. I could go anywhere, with anyone, as long as it was at a country-road pace. My dad drove it with a lazy comfort and diligent dad carefulness that it had grown accustomed to. The truck always took it easy. Later in life, it liked to take things even slower.
And having had a good long easy life, the truck has since retired. It now lives in a hippy commune upstate, in New Hampshire. I gave it to a friend when I left, and her son drove it there, realizing as he went that it would not make it back. It will live out its final days amongst the hippies, not far from where it started. Perhaps it will become part of a garden like the ones it helped to build.