I met Keoki in the parking lot of a Ford dealership on 38th street. I'd gone to the lot thinking I knew exactly what I wanted. Only thing was that the lot didn't have that...they had him. Red as sin and fun as hell. On Valentine's day 1999 he came home with me. Today, Keoki Kamehameha the Red Headed Stepchild will go off to wherever it is good cars go when they die. He and I have had our last adventure together. Sunday I was out with friends checking out the place where they will enter wedded bliss. Whilst driving--slowly I might add--around a mall seeking lunch, an unmarked dragon turtle masquerading as a speed bump jumped out of the asphalt and struck my car in his sensitive underbelly. The engine died right then. I got him started back up and he was okay the rest of the day. The next morning, however, when I set out to take my daughter to school, the engine made a noise that sounded like all of the collected armies of Mordor trying to claw their way out from under my hood. After some diagnoses, hoping, praying and no small amounts of begging the gods to let my Stepchild ride again...the truth became clear.
After almost 15 years and 180k miles, The Stepchild is dead. If he were a person, this would be the point where we invoke the Do Not Resuscitate. He's probably got more miles in him, but Keoki's monetary value is at least half of what the repairs will cost. It's time to let him go.
It might seem odd, silly or stupid to write a eulogy for a car, but Keoki has always been more than that to me. First off, he was my first car. Also? He was something my dad did for me. I asked Dad to go halvsies with me on a $1000 piece of shit Fiesta my friend was selling. He saw it and said, "Hell no, you're getting a new car."
For another thing...my car has a definite spirit, a palpable presence that has always sat shotgun. Crazy as it sounds, that spirit and I are friends. I'm not saying goodbye to a car, I feel like I'm losing a friend.
Keoki drove me to a few first dates, home from breakups and to my wedding. He drove my baby girl home from the hospital. Rock concerts and impromptu sing-alongs in 4 part harmony. Road trips all over the states including a cross-country jaunt in 2004. That was when I packed my whole life into that little car and moved from Indiana to Arizona. He was my turtle's shell that day. He drove me to see Dave Matthews Band, Phantom of the Opera and Blue Man Group (among other things). Hell, he even carried me to my first audition for Blue Man Group! He carried me through funeral processions, acted as an ambulance and carted props to performances.
Keoki was more than a car. It's like Captain Jack Sparrow said about his beloved Black Pearl:
Wherever we want to go, we'll go. That's what a ship is, you know. It's not just a keel and a hull and a deck and sails, that's what a ship needs but what a ship is... what the Black Pearl really is... is freedom.
Yeah. That's what Keoki was. He was my Black Pearl. My Serenity.
Here is a proper send off to my Stepchild.
Keoki... Aloha Oe Vey. Just for you, love.
Now... bring me that horizon.