A Love Story: My First Car

Erika Petrelli
Erika Petrelli

"My first car" is something you can only say once. In this post, Erika discusses her passion for a plucky little vehicle, literally held together with staples and duct tape.

My first car was a 1977 black Dodge Aspen, which I lovingly nicknamed “a**hole.”

I loved that car.

Bought shortly after I turned sixteen for about $1400, which I split with my parents (At least, that's my version of history. My mom will likely read this and remind me that the car actually cost more than that and that I actually only contributed fifty bucks. I'll stick with my version. It's much more romantic. Anyway.), this car was perfect. It was a huge, black, two-door, boat-of-a-car with nearly a decade worth of miles, complete with wear and tear, by the time it came to me.

Other kids wanted “nice” cars – fancy, expensive, shiny, cute little cars – but not me. It’s possible that I had a moment of wanting something in a prettier package, but I quickly gave that up as I realized just how fantastic my car was. I didn’t have to worry about nicks and scrapes (and believe me, I added my share – I didn’t get the nickname “Crash” for nothing). I didn’t have to obsess if it was cool enough. It was in a league of its own, one of a kind. When people saw that car coming, they didn’t have to look twice to know who was behind the wheel.

Now, the car did have its share of issues. One time I put it in ‘park’ and the gear shift came off in my hands. Another time, I opened the door to get out and the entire door fell off the hinges. The vinyl seating that stuck to the leg of any occupant on hot summer days eventually split and cracked, and the Styrofoam stuffing underneath creeped its way out. The fabric roof hung so low that eventually I had to staple it back up to the top. As time passed, a hole blossomed in the floor on the passenger side.

Through it all, with lots of love and duct tape, it kept on going. It was my constant companion from my sophomore to my senior years in high school, and then into college, where I added flower decals to represent the “college us.”

When eventually it was time to send it to the car graveyard, I honestly mourned. I actually just recently had a dream where I spotted my old car at a used car lot and bought it right back, gleefully driving off the lot and speeding down the road, windows down, lost in nostalgia and trying to figure out what I should do about car seats.

Last week I talked about staying “within the lines.” I think my Dodge Aspen is a good example of that. For some, the car might have been too ugly or too beat up. It might have been too loud or too big. But the car fit me. And that was more than good enough.

What fits you?

Do the words "My First Car" resonate with you one some level? Have a story you'd like to share about something yo loved that others, at first glance, might loathe? Share in the comment section below!



Erika Petrelli

By Erika Petrelli

Erika Petrelli is the Senior Vice President of Leadership Development (and self-declared Minister of Mischief) for The Leadership Program, a New York City-based organization. With a Masters degree in Secondary Education, Erika has been in the field of teaching and training for decades, and has been with The Leadership Program since 1999. There she has the opportunity to nurture the individual leadership spirit in both students and adults across the country, through training, coaching, keynotes, and writing. The legacy Erika strives daily to create is to be the runway upon which others take flight. If you enjoy these blogs, you should check out her interactive journal, On Wings & Whimsy: Finding the Extraordinary Within the Ordinary, now available for sale on Amazon. While her work takes her all around the country, Erika calls Indiana home.