Purple Haze

by on March 7th, 2015
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When I was a junior in high school my mother bought a purple car. Not some classy dark eggplant color, but a purple the same hue as Barney the Dinosaur. It was a 1997 Ford Escort station wagon with no frills. You had to crank down the windows to open them, and manually push the locks on the door.

I learned to drive stick in this car. I squealed and screeched my way around an empty parking lot once or twice, and then I was free. My brother and I, neither of us fitting the culture of the small rural town we lived in nicknamed it purple haze. We would blast heavy metal out of its raggedy windows going down Main Street, drinking in imagined attention from the other kids after the last bell rang.

I inherited this car when I needed transportation for student teaching. And during this time I grew to love this car even more. Twenty -five dollars at the gas station and my tank was full. The car got a full 35 miles to the gallon. As a broke and somewhat clueless college student I was careless with my maintenance and rarely changed the oil. Somehow the car still ran.

Purple Haze handled well in any kind of weather. The steering was tight and it’s size made it perfect to drive in rural and urban areas. It was easy to see all four corners of the car from the driver’s seat, so I could parallel park it in any spot. It also had plenty of room to fit my musical equipment and my belongings every time I switched apartments.

One evening I was driving on route 9 outside of Poughkeepsie, NY. On my way to meet some friends, I went to stop at a red light, and felt my foot go straight to the floor. The brakes were gone. Luckily I was going slow enough to avoid any injury, but when the Master Cylinder bit the dust finally, I had to say goodbye to Purple Haze.

I drive a “better” car now, but I will always remember the feeling of being able to count on that car at any time in any weather. I will remember the good times with friends and family in that car, and I will remember how that car stuck out like a sore thumb in any parking lot. Most of all, I will remember the freedom that came with driving the first car I ever owned.

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