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Total: defined as "damage beyond repair"
Car: defined as "a road vehicle, typically with four wheels, powered by an internal combustion engine and able to carry a small number of people"
Heartbreak: defined as "overwhelming distress"
When the insurance company called and said they were going to total my car, I was heartbroken.
They said it was their policy that if the cost to fix the car was more than seventy percent of the original value, it was not worth it to repair the car.
My car… wasn't worth it?
To them it was a piece of metal and a dollar amount.
But to me…
It was road trips with friends, full of music and laughter, sights to see and stiff backs, hours of black pavement.
It was late night drives, to ice cream stores and people's houses, on adventures, the road lit by my headlights, and the smiles of my friends lit by the glow of the radio.
It was arguments over phone chargers, over which way we should turn, over where we should stop for food, over silly little things like which color of bell pepper tastes the best.
It was heartbroken tears soaking in the seats, and music playing low on the radio, it was seats leaned all the way back so you could lay down, it was comforting warmth coming from the heat seaters and the warm air blasting, it was headlights turned off, it was a security blanket wrapped around you, it was a place where you didn't have to seem like it was all okay.
It was driving to high school, and then to college, and then home from college, and then between my mom's and dad's houses, and to my grandma's, and to my best friends.
It was preset radio channels, and adjusted review mirrors, and seats as close to the steering wheel as I could sit because my feet couldn't reach the peddles, and jokes about how close to the steering wheel I sat, and arguments over who got to sit behind me so they got the most leg room.
It was the Michigan block M on the back, and the iPhone cords in the front, and the center console, and the back seat. It was blankets and hoodies and towels in the trunk. It was water bottles in the door and weather-tech floor mats. It was emergency kits and tool kits in the hidden trunk hatch.
It was a safe place to cry, to talk, to sing, to laugh, to scream.
It was the first and only thing I had ever owned that was really mine.
It was a gift from my grandmother, and my mom letting me put the title in my name.
It was freedom, danger, adventure.
It was a place to call home when I felt like it didn't truly have one.
It was sitting behind the wheel and rubbing my thumb across the leather and knowing that I had one place in the entire world where I knew I belonged.
How can someone else look at my car and tell me how much it's worth?
How can someone else look at my car and see just a piece of metal and a dollar amount?
They can't know that those seats and that leather and that plastic and that metal and that glass and that carpet are so completely soaked in the memories that I've had in that car that you could never clean it out.
The thing they don't understand is that they aren't looking at a car at all.
They're looking at a piece of me that lives outside of my body.
When the take it to a salvage yard and rip out the seats, the tires, the steering wheel, the doors, I'm going to feel it.
When the crunch the metal frame and shatter the glasses and compress it all down into a 4 by 4 square, I'm going to feel it.
When they hand me a check to go get a new car, it's just going to be a blank piece of paper.
When I sit behind the wheel of a new car and it doesn't smell like mine, and the seat isn't in the right spot, and the radio is on a different channel, and the review view mirror is looking at the ceiling, and the leather under my fingertips won't feel the same, and the dealer is grinning down at me like he just made me dreams come true, it's all gonna feel like a movie.
Because it's not my radio station, and it's not my steering wheel, and it doesn't have three pennies in the top of the center console.
Because it wasn't just the car that got totaled, I did too.