I owned a 1981 Toyota Landcruiser in college and had it for a little while after I joined the Army. I always wished I'd have kept it and fixed it up... then one night Meghan and I saw Poppy. Below is a college entrance essay she wrote about the experience of owning it. 'nough said
“Well, duh”, I thought while flashing my dad a sarcastic smile. We were out in the driveway on a hot Sunday afternoon working on my car, and I had just stuck my hand into the hot engine to find the bolt I just lost. My hand got burned, and I was wondering what I was thinking by buying a thirty year old car. My car has been quite an adventure to say the least.
My father and I share a deep love for 1987 Toyota Land Cruisers. He found one in his college years and fixed it up, making it his pride and joy. Although it was long gone by the time I was learning to drive, he always had a hope that someday he could fix up another one. Suffice to say, it makes sense that he was overjoyed when I inquired about a specific space gray 1987 Toyota Land Cruiser for sale on the side of the road. This was the first one I had ever seen, and the second that I did, I fell in love.
A car might seem like a trivial thing to some people, just a means to get around, but for me, I wanted my car to be an experience. I wanted it to my travel companion: go camping on the weekends, travel to mountain biking races around the state and be big enough to fit all my friends when we drove up the mountain to see the famous sunset our town provided. The car also would have to be able to fit my three siblings and parents and large carpool I drove to school everyday.
After my dad and I convinced my mom that somehow, a thirty year old car made sense for me to drive and was completely safe, the hard work began. Every little thing took hours to fix. Tasks included removing the windshield wipers and repainting them, pulling up all of the carpet and flooring and utilizing a dent removal kit. All in, the process took six months for us to fix up everything that we could do without professional help. I learned that alternator belts really are the worst and stereo systems are actually easy to set up. However, what I enjoyed more was the time I got to spend with my dad. I got to learn about economics, his time in the Army, what it’s like to be a CEO and debate just about anything.
Finally, it was done, and whoa, it was beautiful. Immediately, I knew that I had found the love of my life, and yes, it was a car. It was, however, more than a car, it was the tireless afternoons and the rich history the car contained that made me light up when I saw it. I named it Poppy, after my eccentric grandpa who passed years earlier, and my entire family referred to the car by name.
Poppy and I took one of our first adventures with my cross country team. I drove five girls to the first race of the season, and we screamed Taylor Swift songs all the way there. It was the best feeling in the world to know that we all walked on the car with our nerves calmed and our smiles big.
Next, Poppy and I ventured down to Southern California to a mountain biking race. While the race may have been grueling, we had a fun time the night after when I attempted to teach everyone to drive stick shift with Poppy.
Poppy’s adventures were not limited to sports. No, in fact, Poppy and I had quite the morning before the SAT. I woke up with tons of extra time, ready to get that 1600 and walked out to the car, only to find that he wouldn’t start. No joke, morning of the SAT I was stranded. After about fifteen minutes, by the grace of some god, it randomly started and I made it to the testing center with just minutes to spare.
To me it doesn’t matter if there are surf boards or skis on the roof, mountain bikes on the back or friends and siblings packed in, Poppy and I always have a good time. This authentic love that Poppy represents for me, reflects what I want to find in every aspect of my life. Of course there will be obstacles, just like Poppy dying, but I am excited to see what new experiences college contains that will provide me with this sort of love and interest.
I hope that next year, when I leave for college, I can pack up Poppy and drive to school with my dad. Whatever my future holds, wherever that is, I know that Poppy will have my back.
Learning to Drive
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