An Ode to My First Car

September 29, 2019

I really, really loved my 2007 Acura TL.

I’m surely not the only TL-lover. It was a highly popular car when it was introduced, and remained a popular choice for reliable used luxury cars.

The TL was Acura’s best-selling model until it was outsold by the MDX in 2007. While it once ranked as the second best-selling luxury sedan in the United States behind the BMW 3 Series.”1

My parents purchased the car for me when I got my license. I was looking at all sorts of used cars at the time. Some Camrys, Some Accords. Probably an Acura TL here and there. I believe I test drove a 2004 TL, actually, but it made some weird un-balanced sounds.

My dad more or less surprised me with it. I finished marching band practice, and he picked me up in it and let me drive home.

I really, really loved it. It smelled nice. Like some kind of chemical cleaner, but not a harsh one. Maybe it was a kind of leather lotion. It had awesome headlights, bi-xenon HIDs that just looked so hot. LED taillights. Awesome gunmetal spoked wheels. It was fast and made me feel cool.

Just, wow. And for a 16 1/2 year old. Maybe that was a little crazy of my parents. But I always wanted to drive, I was studious in learning and more or less good at it. Was it a learning experience for those involved? Yes, surely. Once I yelled at my folks so harshly and looking back I realize that I was just upset I had done a stupid thing. Defense manifested anger they didn’t deserve. There were one or two close calls that my dad will never (ever) let me forget, but overall I was attentive and avoided as many accidents as I had close calls. For whatever reason, they felt the TL was something I deserved, or at least something I could be trusted with. Oh, and it was safe, so Mom liked that.

I would always drive my friends places. Band practice. Steak and Shake. The movies. Prom. I drove my sister to school for a couple years. I had girlfriends in that car, I started relationships in that car and ended relationships in that car. I stayed out late in that car and got up early in that car. Got lost in that car, sometimes on accident and sometimes on purpose.

Drove 11 hours to my first internship in that car. Drove 11 hours back. And again the next summer. Drove to therapy in that car. Drove to Purdue more times than I could count. I know the route like the back of my hand, and damn if I don’t miss that drive.

Living in SF now, I miss driving quite a bit.

I’m getting a little teary and it feels silly. But I lived a lot of my life in that car. I think I put around 40,000 miles on it over 8 years. It was an absolute freedom.

Oh, and I modded that car. I did most of the popular things that others on Acurazine do/did. I finished the grille in matte black, added some LED strip DRLs, LED switchbacks, and even a spoiler! The spoiler was absolutely awful to install and my dad is a saint for helping me install it (installing it for me). He helped me wire my lights to the rain wiper lead. This is an ode to my dad as much as it is to my car.

Once, back when people still used Flickr to share “serious” photos, I uploaded some photos of my car. I think I took them with my Nokia Lumia 920 (lol).

Well, a weird little blogging website about car insurance came and used one of the pictures. And the caption said “Credit: Jay Hankins”. So that was cool!

You know, this feels like one of those moments where you can’t say enough. And why would I try to? It’s not like anyone really cares. And there’s really not much to say. It was a car that we bought and sold. But, it was special to me, and I want to honor my special things.

Long story long, I loved that Acura TL. I won’t have another car for a while, and I wonder if that makes this all a bit different. Most people will get a new car quite quickly. They move on, quickly. Me, I am hanging to the memories a bit.

And I’m not just hanging onto the heated leather seats, LED lights, and powerful engine. I’m hanging onto the moments of life I lived in that car. Wondering what moments are being lived by its new owner. I’m hanging onto the memories.

On the knowledge that the memories are all I have and the car isn’t coming back to me? Well, I don’t want to go all “mortality” on this journal entry. And the irony that cars are killing the planet is not lost on me. But the truth is that, I lived so much of my life in that car, that’s past tense “lived”. Those moments of my life — the literal minutes - are gone. And I am that much closer to dying, and that makes me very, very uneasy.

Here’s to my first car.