I clearly remember the first time I saw her, all sleek and scarlet under the portico of the dealership. She was a bright slash of color upon a dreary winter landscape. It was the day before Christmas and I was immediately in love.
It took three long days to make her mine. That was 20 years ago and we’re still together, my Camaro and me. It’s the best relationship I’ve ever had.
I was down and nearly out. It was the holidays and I had never been so lonely. And then there she was, calling out to me in a way that my soul heard and answered.
Cam, who I lovingly call my “autonomous mobile,” has taken me places I never thought I would go. She has carried me to awesome people and events, and away from bad people and places. She has protected me and been a place of refuge, serenity and joy. She pulled me out of the dark and continues to show me light. She has been more than a car for so long that she’s like a person to me and the other people in my life who love her.
People ask about her wherever I go, and I can’t count the number of times people have linked her with me.
“Oh, that beautiful red car that I’ve seen on Front Street?” I was once asked by a pharmacist who knew where I worked when I told her I had a sweet Camaro.
I’ve been asked about her at the dentist, the doctor, the post office, the grocery store. I’ve had people tell me they have seen her driving places and asked where she was going. How could you not smile at that?
Children especially love my car. Maybe it’s her face, which always looks like she’s smiling. Maybe it’s the Transformers Autobot logos on her front fenders. Maybe she just speaks to them like she spoke to me all those winters ago.
I love to talk about Cam and answer questions about her. I once met a young boy at a car show and he was drawn to Cam. He told me he was always being picked on by other children. He talked with me about being different, and I told him how I understood that and that you can find someone who is like you if you keep looking.
The following year, I was polishing Cam’s taillights at the annual car show when I heard an excited group of children near her front end. I looked up and there was that boy, with five other children. They were all talking about the Autobot emblems and how cool my car is.
“Yeah, but I know her,” the boy said. “This is Cam. She’s my friend.”
Tears welled up in my eyes as the other children whooped and hollered, clapping him on the back and giving him high fives. He launched into details about her that I had shared with him the year before and then he introduced me to his new friends. Their respect for him was apparent. I was so proud.
That’s my Cam, making friends and mending hearts.
Another time, I came out of work to see two young girls hanging out by my car. Now, I’m a little territorial about Cam, but it was obvious pretty quickly that the preteens weren’t up to no good.
Their eyes widened as I put my key in the lock and opened the door.
“This is your car?” one of them asked me. “We never thought it belonged to a girl!”
The other girl looked down and the one who spoke continued.
“We come and visit your car some days when we’re down,” she said. “It makes us feel better.”
I told them about meeting Cam and how she always makes me feel better, every single time I see her, all these years later. Then, the quiet girl spoke up.
“I’m glad you have her,” she said. “I don’t really have anybody.”
I told her and her friend that they could come and visit Cam anytime they wanted to. The girl who did most of the talking then hugged me. And when the quiet girl looked at me questioningly, I hugged her. Then they skipped down the street.
Cam strikes again.
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