Every day, I pulled in and parked beside Chris's baby blue bug or Rondee's red convertible bug. There were white bugs and dark blue bugs. They were cheap and forgiving of teenage drivers.
My first job - my first real job - was as a delivery driver for the local florist. I'd pick up my deliveries and pack them into the backseat of my car, balloons obscuring the tiny oval rear window. On sunny days, I rolled down my window and popped open the tiny corner window, putting my elbow on the door and zipping along at speeds upwards of 45 mph.
It was the car in which I learned to drive a stick shift, my mom and I yelling at each other until I cried and she threw her hands in the air taking up the neighbor's offer to teach me to drive himself.
It was the car in which I was in my first accident, inexperience and a tricky break resulting in a slow roll into the slough, a bruised hip, a screaming friend, and the knowledge my mom was going to kill me.
It was the car my dad towed to California where I used it to drive to work, buckling my cousin in the back seat in such a manner that I wonder my aunt and uncle didn't have daily heart attacks.
The death of that car - on a hot summer day as I tried to drive on the freeway at a speed that was good to avoid being smooshed by semis but not good for an air cooled vehicle - resulted in my first clandestine under aged drink bought by a friend: a sickly sweet screwdriver bought at the Circle K I now go to pick up Redbox movies and fill my gas tank.
Don had told me he bought a bug, a grown up model without tears in the seats or an old traffic sign welded to the floor boards. When I showed up, I saw it sitting in all its round and lovely glory and felt an ache to drive it like I've never felt with another car.
After a day in Portland, Don suggested we take it for a spin. I sat in the passenger seat, giddy with excitement. He started the engine and I was seventeen again.
The sound and smell and slight pause as it shifted into gear jolted me to rainy days with the windshield wipers barely big enough to clear the glass, to stuffed animals lining the rear ledge, to a black and red tassel hanging on the mirror, the '93 mottling from silver to a dull gold.
We roared along the back roads. I held on the handle and laughed at the sheer joy of it, my mind jumbled by the time we got to the store. My past and my present mixed until I wasn't sure if I was a middle aged mom running errands or an awkward teenage girl wandering the grocery aisles wondering if she can sneak a box of Captain Crunch into the cart.
Then, Don handed me the keys.
It's been years since I've driven a stick. More years since I've driven four on the floor with reverse positioned sneakily by second. It didn't take long - and thankfully Don didn't yell like Mom did - but pretty soon I was driving over the hills of a country road edged in greens and pines and the transformation to seventeen was complete.
I wanted to keep driving.
I wanted to let the years disappear with the miles. I wanted responsibility to fade to nothing. I wanted...to buy my own bug.
At some point, I will.