As I was driving down the road today, I had a flash of my first love Bessie.  She was a white 1986 Mercury Grand Marquis with blue cloth interior.  Grand she was, in size and stature, and grand she lives on in my memory.  Bessie was a hand-me-down from my mom.  She bought the car new and promptly hated it.  I did too.  It was huge, ugly, and really un-cool.  It was an old person car and neither my mom nor I were old.  However once the car was mine, it was no longer what it wasn’t, but what it was.  And what it was:  my very first car.  Her name quickly became Bessie and while I’ve had many cars since, she’s my only car to ever get a name.

I was a sophomore in college and the once un-cool beast quickly became cool.  She was a sofa on wheels.  Her hugeness meant you could pile a ton of people or stuff inside her vast interior.  She was the perfect road trip car; my constant companion during my most transient years.

Bessie and I spent many hours touring the highways and byways of this United States.  Many people joined us and all were left with a sense of wonder.  She was special and proved it at every turn.  Even though she was old, she never broke down and left her passengers stranded.  She even pushed another car up a large hill in northern Arizona near the end of her life.  She ran out of gas once, but had the decency to glide into the gas station on fumes and die just as we pulled up to the pump.  She tackled mountain, crazy terrain, cold and snow and never let it get the best of her.

On the way home from our last road trip together in 1997, on the border between Arkansas and Missouri, a man from Iowa named Elmer had the audacity to rear-end my darling with a full-ton pick-up truck and large trailer on the back.  It was a sad, heart-wrenching moment.  I was fuming with rage as my sweet Bessie sat mangled at the side of the road and this loser from Iowa didn’t seem to care.  Bessie was like that dog who jumps in front of danger to save his/her master.  She took the bullet and I walked away.  Sure, Elmer’s insurance had to pay some money for ruining her, but no amount of money or wishing could bring Bessie back.  Elmer killed her and I’ve never been able to forgive him.

Bessie, wherever you are, you were the greatest car a travel loving college girl could ever have hoped for.  As my friend Liane used to say back in high school, thanks for the ride, see you at school.