That Time My Car Broke Down and So Did I

This week’s Road Trip Wednesday over at YA Highway asks: How did you spend/how will you spend the summer after graduation?

I had a lot of fun times during my high school years, but high school was not one of them. After graduating outside in the pouring rain–our caps were so soggy that when we tossed them up (despite our principal’s adamant warnings against this time-honored practice) they sort of sagged in the air with none of the joyful bouyancy as seen on TV–I stuck around just long enough for some snapshots with the grandparents and then peeled out of the school parking lot, blaring “Schools Out for Summer” on the souped up sound system of my decrepit Honda CRX.

That night I headed to my boyfriend’s house, I think, but what I was really anticipating was the two weeks of beach time at my BFF’s family condo in Ocean City, MD. I had graduation money to burn and couldn’t wait for the decadence of no parental supervision. Not to mention that my BFF and I? Not as BFF-y as we had been in the past. For whatever reason, I felt like we were pulling away from each other, and I knew that this trip was going to be what brought us back together.

My dad wanted to take a look at my car before I headed off on the three hour trip to the beach, but I didn’t have time for that. The car had been having a few minor issues, but there was no real reason to have him waste my precious beach time only to discover that there was nothing wrong with the car. So I left. Headed beachward with the summer wind whipping at my hair and another couple of friends in a seperate car behind us.

We were about twenty miles outside of Ocean City when the CRX started acting funny. It was slowing down. No matter how hard I pressed on the gas, I couldn’t get the car to speed up. At that moment I knew that I should have waited for my dad to check the car. I gulped down my regrets, turned down the music so that everything was very silent and serious, and pressed on. Ten miles out, the engine cut off. I coasted for about half a minute and pulled off onto the shoulder.

I tried to start the car back up, but she was unresponsive. Maybe it was a combination of hormones or emotions from the catharsis of graduation, my BFF drifting away, the shame of ignoring my dad’s concerns, the stress of not having a way home (since our friends were only staying a few days), but I lost my shit completely. I started bawling. Hugging some stuffed animal that I brought with me like I was eight years old.

Once I got into the other car and we all drove to the condo in one car, I retreated into the bedroom. Curled into a ball with my stuffed Grape Ape, refusing to call a tow truck to pick up my car or call my parents and tell them what happened. Eventually my friends did these things for me. They ordered a pizza, too. Slowly, I came out of my shell of crazy and the beach trip ended up being packed with fun times. Most of which are inappropriate to share on the internet, except for the one time we bought one of those “surprise” bags at this cool store along the boardwalk and despite being $25/each it ended up being filled with the cheapest crap imaginable. An ugly mug. Infantile plastic jewelry. Stickers that I’m pretty sure the store gave away for free.

And we all lived happily ever after at the beach until my dad had to drive up and fix the car and we had to hide our various contraband and pretend like we’d been living a civil, adult lifestyle by the beach. Ha.

I’d like to say that my BFF-ship was rekindled, but it wasn’t really. In fact, it took a nosedive once we got to college. But that summer was the last time we really had together before we lost each other, although the rest of the summer was comparatively boring. And to be honest, a little hazy.  

What did you do the summer after you graduated?

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  1. Colin says:

    I think I had that same kind of feeling between school and university: life’s going to change, and friendships are going to change. You’re growing up, and so is everyone else. As much fun as I had with my friends that summer, things were never the same again. Not because of any major falling out–we still stayed friends. But we all grew up and moved on.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Crystal. 🙂

    • Crystal says:

      Come to think of it, I totally have a car break down scene in my current WIP… maybe that’s subconsciously where I drew the inspiration? And sadly, I do not have Grape Ape anymore. I gave him to my niece.

  2. Rebecca B says:

    Ah, the summer between HS and college. I remember coming home from saying goodbye to a good friend and sitting down on the curb, bawling.
    I loved my broken-down Ford Escort so much; it was hard to say goodbye to it, too!

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