Beaming rays of sunlight reflected off the tan interior of my ’99 Nissan Altima and illuminated the mileage dial on the dashboard last week as I cruised past Garey Avenue on the 10 Freeway.
The moment seemed to have a heavenly glow as the numbers slowly changed from 99,999 to 100,000.
Just like a 100th birthday, when a car breaks the five-digit mark, an achievement has been made.
My Altima, lovingly “Allie,” and I have had a unique relationship during our five years together and reaching this point in healthy condition had great meaning.
Like any teenager at age 16, I begged my parents for a car come my birthday month in July. A month later, while on a walk with my sister, my parents surprised me with “Allie,” an emerald blue sedan, parked in a lot along our path. I ran for joy at the sight of my new companion with a bright yellow sign that read, The Nicki Mobile. From that point on, we have been inseparable.
My parents intended for the car to last till I graduated college, and here we are a semester left and still going strong. However, it did not always seem that way.
A year after “Allie” and I were united, punishment for a speeding ticket drew us apart.
For speeding nearly 20 mph over the speed limit, my parents banished my 17-year-old self to the big yellow bus for three weeks.
Several months following our reunion, I made some bad depth perception calls and Allie’s front bumper had to be replaced twice.
Without a doubt our most dramatic memory occurred the summer of 2003. Coming home from a week-long paradise vacation in Hawaii to celebrate high school graduation, I received the terrible news that my house had been robbed.
Driving home from the airport, I stayed in shock as my parents described all that was taken, till they revealed the biggest blow: My car was gone.
To this day, I will never forget the sinking feeling of watching the garage door creep open and finding my car missing.
It must have been fate because nearly a week later, the police found my Altima in Fontana unharmed – only insanely dirty with cigarette butts littering the floor and a few minor items stolen.
Since then we’ve had a few bumps and bruises and close calls, but we are still in tip-top shape. Over the years, my point A to point B car has become more than my mode of transportation.
As a commuter from Rancho Cucamonga to either La Verne or Chino Hills, my car has grown to be like a second home. So much can be said about my life by looking at my car. Newspapers, shoes, sweatshirts, notebooks, tape recorders and textbooks scattered across my backseat tell the story of the struggling student reporter.
A dangling pair of Hawaiian-patterned blue and purple dice given by a dear high school friend when I was 16 shows my value in friendships.
A tiny wooden cross around my rearview mirror reminds me of the robbery – an item deliberately laid across the backseat when my car was found.
I’ve given up dreaming of a new, fancy vehicle. The memories and reliability of my Altima make for a relationship with 100,000 more miles. And as my 1999 model becomes more and more retro, I will remain loyal to the vehicle that kept up with my zany high school years and hectic college life. Who knows what the next 100,000 will bring? But one thing is for sure, you will find me and my Altima enjoying the ride.
Nicole Knight, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.