My first car was a baby blue Fiat convertible. Wow! It was absolutely ideal. It was eye-catching, small enough to park anywhere, and it cost nothing at the gas pump. I think I could fill it up for $1.25 – is that really possible? I loved that car.
I actually learned to drive in it, thanks to my boyfriend at the time who was a Middle School teacher and VERY patient. I was 20 or 21. Although I had passed my driving test at 17, the trauma of the stick shift and clutch in my mother’s Cougar was too much for me. Then I went off to college where I didn’t need a car.
But the next summer, while my mother went to New Hampshire with her husband-to-be, she left us the use of her Jersey shore apartment and said I could have the car if I wanted it. I really had no choice but to try to learn to drive again. I felt so glamorous and grown up. I remember the thrill and the fear of it all – actually being scared at stop signs and left turns. Parallel parking! It was such a triumph.
That fall I moved to Baltimore where I needed a car. I also acquired my first cat – Stash – a distant cousin to Morris the Cat. Stash would ride with me in the passenger seat with the top down, sitting up like a dog or even a person. When I parked and left the car on a busy, noisy city street, he would stay seated and wait patiently for me. I guess I was lucky that nobody ever kidnapped him. When walking in the woods, he would follow at my heels as if he were on a leash. I loved that cat just like I loved that car. Years later, after my daughter was born, Stash disappeared never to return.
D L Hudson lives in Santa Fe and is an animal lover and aspiring artist.