In packing for Austria, we divided everything in our house into five categories: 1) things that we need for everyday life (suitcases), 2) things that we wanted to bring along but could do without for six to eight weeks (shipping container), 3) things that we wanted to keep but didn't need to bring along (to be stored in Wisconsin), 4) things that we didn't want any more or that didn't make economic sense to bring along (to be sold or donated), and 5) things that were no longer useful to anyone (recycling or trash, of which there was thankfully very little). Since categories 1, 2 and to some extent 3 had fixed weight and volume restrictions, I thought category 4 was going to be full of things that would be hard to part with. Happily, I was wrong. I'm not sure if that's a good thing or bad thing—should I have collected more valuable, personal items in the past ten years?—but I was somewhat relieved to discover that my life wasn't closely tied to an immovable amount of material possessions.
That being said, there were a few things that I was sad to see go and that I know I will miss in the coming months. The first among them was our car, a 2008 Honda Fit. It was the first new car that we ever bought and it fit nicely into the long and storied Souzek tradition of small, fuel efficient, manual transmission vehicles: two mid- to late-80s Toyota Tercels, a 1988 Nissan Pulsar, and a 1989 Toyota MR2 (even though it was an automatic). We were as giddy as high schoolers with freshly pressed driver's licenses when we brought it home. After driving it a whole two hundred miles, I got it washed, took it up to a scenic overlook at dusk and spent an hour and a half photographing it from every angle. It was terribly embarrassing but luckily there was no one around to point it out. I had every intention of posting them too—who doesn't want to see a close-up of the freshly cleaned 14" hubcaps of a Honda?—but I never got around to it.
It was a great car for us, small and fuel efficient but four-door and surprisingly roomy. It was fun to drive around the scenic, winding back roads of western Connecticut, weaving around the corners and working your way through the gears. It was the car that we would take whenever we went anywhere without the kids, its tidewater blue metallic finish sparkling in the parking lot of whatever restaurant we were visiting. It retained the new car smell for what felt like a year, which was an especially stark contrast to the more "lived in" smell of our Caravan. It had a CD player. We were in love.
When it came time to sell it in April, I found myself in the same position as I had been a couple of years before—getting it cleaned up, meticulously taking pictures, and extolling its virtues to anyone that would listen. With the encouragement and guidance of my brother, car buyer/seller extraordinaire, I posted an ad on Craigslist and waited. To my great astonishment and relief, I got a call in less than a week and a half from the perfect buyer—a former owner of a small, manual transmission Honda looking for a new one at a good price. After a short conversation and test drive, we both knew it was right. One day later, we were proudly sending our Fit out into the world with a new caretaker and a new set of plates.
How could we ever replace it, apart from the obvious option of buying the European equivalent Honda Jazz? We couldn't, at least not so soon. For the foreseeable future we'll be attempting a car-free urban lifestyle and depending on trains, buses and trams to get us around. That will also be a big change for me, having relied heavily on cars every day since getting my driver's license. I have a feeling that I may begin to miss driving in the coming months, which will make me relive the joys and ultimate heartbreak of my relationship with the Fit each time I think of it. At least I know it's in good hands.