I wrote a love letter to a car like a weirdo and look what happened
Another overcast June day, in traditional Pacific Northwest fashion — not quite chilly, not quite muggy. Birds belting out their melodies from every direction, deer prowling the neighborhood for someone’s prized primroses. The sweetish smell of blossoms, tinged with wet asphalt. Or maybe just the wet asphalt. Love at first sight has a way of doing that.
It all started off as just another walk. Whenever I call old friends to catch up, I take the dog and start walking in a random direction, which is a great strategy for exploring the neighborhood, but sometimes I wind up lost and subsequently stumble upon all sorts of cool random stuff. Usually, our conversations manage to snake their way around the assortment of distractions, but whatever we were talking about before disappeared forever into the ether when I rounded the corner and saw it.
The Tercel. A bludgeon to my gasoline-steeped heart.
As one does, my brain went to mush and I babbled incoherently. “Whoaaaa look at that a four wheel drive wagon with the diamond print seats and a stick shift and huh it doesn’t looks like its moved in a while and there’s storage bins in the backseat MAYBE THE OWNER DOESN’T WANT IT MAYBE THEY’D sELL IT TO ME FOR CHEAP IT’S SO COOL I WANT IT SO BAD AGH”
“Wait what kind of car is it?”
“A Tercel wagon! With four wheel drive! Like a Subaru before Subaru! Quirker! Cooler! More reliable!
“That wasn’t what I expected, you fool.”
“Hahahah EXACTLY that’s why I could buy it!!!”
And with that, I kept walking, lest any onlookers get too worried. The conversation resumed. But as soon as I hung up and got home, that stupid little car was the only thing I could think about. I spent several more hours than usual on Bring a Trailer. Found weird forums detailing Corolla engine swaps. Watched videos of Tercels offroading and doing donuts in snowy parking lots. Imagined myself imagining myself as a Group B rally driver, handbraking and rev-matching downshifts and cranking on the spindly shift lever. I told my dad, mom, brothers, girlfriend, dog. And after the third or fourth time, they agreed: if it really is true love, you gotta write a note.
I spent days weighing the utter stupidity of it all against how badly I wanted the car, but as you might suspect, I couldn’t resist.
The only remaining question was how.
The best stories, even dedicated to inanimate objects, still need people in them, and while I knew it would be easy to gush about how cool the car was, I needed a cherry on top. Thankfully, I happen to have a mentor who had written just such a story — and it won him a motorcycle. So I co-opted his recipe: all the texture of real life, but with a bonus detail or two. Maybe 9th grade biology wasn’t that much fun, maybe I didn’t walk by my teacher’s Tercel every day, but it still left an impression.
Three days later, I left my note under the windshield wiper. You can read it at the bottom of this article, if you’re so inclined. I even drew a picture to go with it.
One day. No reply. We drove past. Still there.
The bitter taste of resignation set in. I even made it a full day without going by to see if my note was still there. But the following day, I couldn’t help myself, and again we went over to check; to my utter disappointment, it hadn’t moved.
But wait… a second note? I pulled the car over. We hopped out. What a strange way to respond…?
But no. “I’d love to buy the car, I’ve loved Tercels for a long time. — Morgan.” A phone number. No gushing, no drawing, no price, no effort. Just that.
Is this… A love triangle? Are you kidding me? Were they emboldened by my profession of true love? Were they jealous? What is this??? Do I risk karmic retribution by texting Morgan and telling them it sold? Will it come down to a bidding war, in which case I inevitably lose? Or will love prevail, against all odds?
What will I find when I return tomorrow?
Stay tuned, folks.
Update! This story actually came to a depressingly anticlimactic ending. Nothing happened until a week and a half later, when both notes vanished.
But somehow it’s all still Morgan’s fault.
Also, if you made it this far, I guess you earned the right to read my truest, most vulnerable profession of love. So here it is. You’re welcome.
My favorite high school teacher had a car just like this one.
At the time, I was the paradoxical car enthusiast who couldn’t even drive yet, but I lived for the magazines, museums, and rabbit-hole conversations with other car people. This teacher was one of them. He loved older eccentric cars, especially British ones, but that little Sr5 was his daily driver.
Same color even. Blue like the Western sky at dawn. Three pedals, plaid seats. Every day I would walk past on my way home from school. Admire the quirky shape and the cherry red 4wd badge on the back. When I looked in its reflection, I saw mountains, adventures, rowing through the gears on a twisty back road somewhere.
Fast forward a few years, until the tape stops. 2020. Quarantine, online college classes, back to little brothers and Mom’s cooking. Long walks with the dog, wandering neighborhoods and side streets with nothing better to do. Rounding the corner, seeing this car.
And now it’s burned into the backs of my eyelids, and every time I close them I see this funky little car.
Which is why I left this here. As a now-unemployed college kid, I can’t offer much. But I would be overjoyed to part with what remains of my bank account to take this car to a loving new home.
Or at the very least, I hope you give it a little extra love for me ❤
Y’all already knew I was crazy, but hopefully you enjoyed this one. Hehehe. And I’ll confess, I may or may not still check Craigslist for a clean one of these once every month or two. Someday…