We were meant to be together.
When I read about him in the classified ads of an Irish newspaper, I instinctively felt a connection. I picked up the phone and made arrangements for us to meet in Dublin.
The next day my friend dropped me off one street over from where we were going to see each other for the very first time. I remember rounding the corner of the road lined with brick houses and brightly colored doors, nervous and excited at the same time.
My eyes first spotted him wedged between a motorcycle missing a front wheel and a dilapidated truck. I instantly fell in love. My soon-to-be partner in crime was there before me, in the form of a dark blue 5 speed VW Golf.
To this day I become teary-eyed thinking of that incredible beast, seat belts covered in mold, back seat ripe with the fragrance of roasted turkey, engine sputtering joyfully every time the key turned in (or out of) the ignition.
Templeton spent most of his time dutifully transporting large groups of students throughout the city of Dublin. When he was not performing his driving duties, he morphed into a stellar smoking lounge. Music and cigarette smoke poured from dingy windows at any given time of day, his front seat piled high with cans of diet coke.
In Ireland, a car inspection (referred to as the National Car Test) is required of all vehicles. The test is more like an automotive endurance race, where cars must demonstrate their athletic prowess to a group of onlookers. During my second year with sweet Templeton, his test was due and I was worried he might require serious medical attention. Anxiously I took him to his car-doctor, a kind man named Desmond with a garage just past the Sandymount strand.
I watched anxiously as Templeton was put up on a lift. He appeared almost anesthetized during the process. However, very soon into the procedure I heard a sharp “F*$*ng hell” come from my car’s underbelly.
Desmond extracted himself from Templeton’s innards with a grin on his face. “I’ve never seen anything like it” he said. “I think this car is Russian. Built like a tank. He’s fit as can be and ready to go. Just a bit of a face lift needed, not more”.
That week my sweet Russian 5 speed car-tank was proudly presented to the automobile examiners. In line next to me was the owner of a shiny BMW. His nose turned up at the sight of Templeton. He smirked as my knight in dingy armor puttered away to the obstacle course located in the building across the parking lot.
Mr. BMW and I were ushered into a waiting room with a viewing window. We both watched as our cars were hooked up to various pieces of equipment, people with clipboards wandering around them. A few minutes later I felt a tap on the shoulder. I turned and found Templeton’s examiner, keys in hand. “You’re all set, Miss.” I finally let out a breath. My little tank had passed.
As I walked out of the building towards my automobile soul-mate, I overheard Mr. BMW being scolded. It seemed that his shiny feat of German engineering had failed.
Yes, Templeton was always full of surprises. We found he could handle over 7 people in the back seat and still haul a few more on the roof. His bumpers possessed superman-like powers, as his very aggressive driver (i.e., me) had a habit of banging them along steel rails, cement walls, and even other cars – one time even against the only car in a long and otherwise empty parking lot.
He was a patient piece of machinery, putting up with the likes of me, kindness pouring from his exhaust pipes. We shared secrets, times of joy, and more than a few teary moments. He was my rock.
Our fourth year together, with a heavy heart, I took note of Templeton’s ageing changes. It began with occasional hiccups and burps that would occur long after keys were extracted from his ignition, a sign of automobile gastrointestinal upset with serious root causes. Soon afterwards, hills and even gradual inclines became a challenge for the poor old soul. The day Templeton refused to climb the road to the highest pub in Ireland, my friends and I made the decision that it was no longer fair to the sweet creature to force him to go on any roadways that were not flat.
We cared for him for weeks, restricting his activity to only horizontal surfaces.
Soon it was time for me to leave Ireland. With a heavy heart, Templeton and I returned to Desmond on Sandymount strand.
Desmond kindly put his hand on my shoulder and let me know that the best thing I could do for Templeton was to consider recycling. He walked to the phone and made the call.
He came back to me, eyes glistening slightly. “I have good news”, he said. “They can take him today. They need him. It seems they are sending parts to the US, to be used in refrigerators.” He paused. Then he said with a smile, “dare I say, you and your man were destined to seeing each other again.”
Back home in the US, I often think back to those wonderful days in Ireland and smile.
And since the day Templeton and I said our goodbyes on the Sandymount strand, I have never looked at a refrigerator the same way again.