Goodbye, old friend

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In 1999, I bought my first car, a `97 Subaru Outback wagon. I wanted a family, so I got a good family car.

(How did I afford such a thing at ~18 years of age? I was either already programming full time, or was soon to be. And I had some money left over from a legal settlement. You might say I traded the hearing in my left ear for that car.)

I loved that car. There are few more practical vehicles in the world, in my humble opinion. Pleasant to drive, safe, reliable, amazingly capable in rain, ice, and snow.  It almost certainly saved my butt on a number of occasions, compensating for the errors of judgement of an inexperienced driver by gamely clinging to the road when other cars would have spun into an embankment.

And indeed, a great family car, as I confirmed when I married a woman with two kids and a greyhound just a year or so later. It served us faithfully for many years and over 200,000 miles. It kept us safe when a driver in an SUV got distracted and rammed into us from behind at highway speeds on our way to visit family in Florida.

Then, one day on an outing to the mountains it blew its head gaskets. After that it took up permanent residence in our garage. We were hard up for money at the time, and it was hard to justify the cost of repair when our family was rapidly outgrowing it.

Today, I donated it to a charity for veterans. It was hard watching it go. Part of me wanted to say “wait, stop!”. But it was time.

I still eye newer models of the Outback with desire when I see them on the road. But our family is just too big to make such a car practical. Maybe when I’m old and the kids have all grown up I’ll buy myself another one.