There Must Be Magic

By GirlWithACamera

The Long Goodbye: Farewell to the Mazda!

I bought my gold 1998 Mazda Protege LX on April 19, 2002. I remember because it was the day of the groundbreaking for "the new Outreach building" at Innovation Park, the building I would work in for the remainder of my Penn State career, which concluded at the end of December 2020, when I retired.

Anyway, I had a blue 1987 Nissan Stanza GXE at the time, and it was growing long in the tooth. My husband now/boyfriend at the time and I were looking for a backup car for me, and we responded to an ad for a Ford Taurus wagon at PF Auto in Milesburg.

When we went for a look, we noticed two things immediately: 1) that the wagon was WAYYYYYY too big for me, especially with those tiny parking spaces at the University where I worked, and 2) that there was an adorable little gold Mazda sitting next to it! WAIT! WHAT HAVE WE HERE???

Well, the rest, as they say, was history. I wrote out a check for that little gold Mazda and brought it home, and when I sold my Stanza in September of 2004, after buying a house in the country that summer, I moved into this house and this Mazda, and began driving the car every day to work. ZOOM ZOOM!!! went the Mazda. "Mum's Merry Mazda," my husband called it.  :-)

And so my car and I went on many adventures together, and we managed to fit in tiny little photo stops on quite a few of those days. My car was one of my photographic tools; sure, I took lots and lots of pictures with my camera, but SOMEthing had to GET me there! So all of those pictures of Millbrook in the morning, and frost mist rising over Spring Creek, yeah, baby, the Mazda was my chariot!

My husband and I did as much of the work on the car as we could. I did the body work on it, and have the pictures to prove it. Together, we replaced the valve cover gasket, as well as other stuff. Local mechanics and our best guy Dave, in Huntingdon (a NASCAR mechanic, now retired, alas), saved the car on numerous occasions. One of the last major repairs was some suspension work that got me an additional five years out of the car.

One of the funnest things, though, is that my tabbycat Dexter became very attached to the car. We developed a ritual where, after supper each day, we'd go and sit in the Mazda for a few minutes. Just woman and cat, having a few minutes of peace. When we came back in, I'd throw Dexter treats on the stairs. This is also the car we took Dexter in to vacation at Taughannock in the Finger Lakes three Mays in a row. Happy times indeed!

The Mazda has put in a lot of good years with me. It has been a wonderful car to drive (ZOOM ZOOM!) and has been just delightful in every way. A great sound system (turn up the BRUCE!), A/C, power everything, moon roof, corners like it's on rails. I don't know how YOU started your work days, but I often arrived at work singing (loudly) whatever tune had just been on the stereo. You get the picture!

But eventually, the car needed body work that was beyond my own skill sets. We talked about what to do with the car. And then one day, in September, we pulled in to the Exxon on Whitehall Road, right next to a guy driving a wrecked 1998 Mazda Protege. Was he interested in purchasing ours, my husband asked him. Well, yes, he was interested. It seemed like it was meant to be.

But it took a while for things to play out. The fellow who was interested lives in Huntingdon, and has a wife with some major health issues. It took him a while to get the money together to buy the car, and we played phone tag back and forth. He came to see the car, and we talked about a price.

On this day, things all came together, and the man came with his truck and tow gig to get the Mazda. He was running late because he'd had battery problems with his truck that morning. Mid-afternoon found us all in town, at the AAA office, transferring tags. I signed away my pink slip. The car was his.

I am glad the car is going to a home where they plan to fix it up and run it for a few more years. The thought of that makes me very happy: one more life for my Mazda. But I sure will miss it, and all of the fine memories it holds.

We were in our driveway, and I was saying goodbye to my Mazda. And for sure, I've had since September to get used to the idea, so while I am sad, I am not actually shocked by the whole thing. I put my arms around it and gave it one last kiss, on the passenger side door. "Thank you," I whispered, "for 20 years of excellent service." I sure will miss this car!!!

My soundtrack song for the Mazda that gave me so much good service and joy is this one: Cyndi Lauper, When You Were Mine. There was one line that really stuck with me, and here it is: "When you were mine . . . you were kinda sorta my best friend." <3

P.S. I also baked an apple pie and a batch of snickerdoodles on this day. You may see a picture in the extras.

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