28 October 2006

memories of taurus

the ford taurus is no more. this week, the last tauruses (tauri?) came off the production line in atlanta, as the factory ground to a halt and prepared to close its doors. taurus was ford's big hit of the 1980s: an american car for american drivers. the taurus was a product of an innovative development process and featured "revolutionary design" and "aerodynamic styling." these days, the taurus looks dated and tired and americans have shifted their focus to gas-guzzling suvs or japanese imports. the taurus has not kept up with the proverbial jonses.

hmmm. i had a ford taurus between 1998-2003, and my relationship with the car followed a similar story arc. my parents bought it for me my junior year in college to replace my ailing buick. i felt like i was driving on air. smaller, faster and cuter than my previous ride the taurus was. it served me well and i drove the hell out of that thing. it accompanied me from new hampshire to san francisco, waited patiently for a year while i gallavanted around the world, then was ready and willing to cruise back to new york for a few years. but gradually the taurus seemed as huge and clunky as the buick had been. it was with little regret that i said goodbye to welcome the car-love-of-my-life subie into the picture.

i don't have the sweet nostalgia for the taurus that i have for either the buick or the subie, although i owned it for longer than the two other cars combined and put by far the most miles on it. but i can think back to some good memories with that trusty car.

there was the time that tami, rob and i drove the taurus down to florida and new orleans for spring break senior year. we drove straight without stopping, except for a blizzard in georgia where we had to pull over and sleep for a while. i think it was on that trip where i passed 100,000 miles. and it was definitely on that trip that a bird met its fate in the front seat. we were on the interstate doing about 80 with the driver's window cracked and somehow a bird flew in, hit the passenger's window and died in an explosion of feathers. true story.

there were the two trips across the country. going west it was a three-car caravan and five people, a legendary trip. my car was the solo vehicle - the five of us rotated through the three front seats, but my passenger seat was full of eli's backpack, so driving in my car was driving alone. of all the adventures of that trip - and there were many - i can't think of any that were car-related. but it was a beautiful time, five kids driving into their future with no idea what was in store.

on the way back three years later, i drove by myself from california to kansas city where seth met me for the rest of the trip to new york. those were two intense days of driving alone; i was again moving across the country without a plan - running away, in a sense. i listened to memoirs of a geisha, unabridged, on tape and drove 14 hours a day, barely stopping for gas and food. i can still imitate the voice on that tape saying "hatsumomo-san." with seth in the car we stopped every 15-20 minutes and had legendary nights in kansas city and lexington, ky.

there was the time when i almost slept in the backseat at my cousin's wedding. and the time i drove to framingham from brooklyn in winter without one window because some asshole on adams street had smashed it. i remember towing the taurus up the driveway daily during winter in new hampshire with tami's ford explorer; the taurus was never very good in the snow.

sometimes the taurus would break down and all you had to do was pull over and wait a half hour, then it would be ready to go again. that's a great car. that happened on the drive west in badlands and again on the highway outside of vegas. it happened once with seth on our way to go camping in upstate new york, another classic trip. we made friends with a gas station attendant and stopped by to see him on the way home and were crushed that he didn't treat us as the old buddies we thought we were.

so adieu taurus. you were a good car...and thorough.

ok, time for me to get off the couch, kick this hangover and get ready for the bbq!


seth said...

I stopped so we could buy beef jerky... :)

seth said...

I stopped so we could buy beef jerky... :) And what about Sean in NJ on our way up to the rafting trip. When the taurus just stopped for no reason and we had to hang out at the gas station for an hour with Sean. That was pretty fun too.