The Car Washed Over Me

The new thing: washing my car by hand.

Here’s how it happened: My Honda Accord got covered with a sappy substance while parked near a landscaping truck on a windy day. I didn’t feel like driving to the car wash 20 minutes away, the weather was warm, and I was game to try washing it myself.

I bought some special soap, found some old cotton tee-shirts and a kitchen sponge, and got to work.

And then a funny thing happened.

As I was soaping up the car—which we bought 15 years ago and I call the Clampett Car for the many nicks and dents we’ve never gotten fixed—the last decade and a half of my life flashed before my eyes. I sponged the sunroof and remembered how my son, as a toddler, loved to look up through the open roof as we drove on bridges, his little face captivated by the massive steel structures overhead. I washed the front headlight that’s held in place by duct tape (classy!) and thought of how touched I was when my husband, not the world’s biggest animal lover, got upset after a deer ran into the road and into our moving car; he was so worried about the deer that he called the cops. (The deer survived.) I soaped up the dent (unknown origin) on the right side, which has been like a beacon over the years, its distinctive look signaling to me in crowded parking lots when I have only a vague idea of where I parked. And the trunk! It’s held our luggage and treasures for trips to the Berkshires, Tennessee, New England, and countless other places.

I may never go to a drive-through car wash again.