Penny: Ode to my Vehicle

Part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 Series

This is a piece I wrote about my 1995 Honda Odyssey last spring during a writing prompt in class. Having just driven her 1,100 miles from Indiana to Colorado and then another 1,200 miles from Colorado to California to start a new adventure, it seemed appropriate to honor her with blogging this as part of the Pilgrimage Summer 2013 series.


The paint moved beyond “beginning to peel” years ago, back in our Colorado days.  This morning as I chipped the packed snow off the windshield, I noted the growing patch of silver emerging from the green paint on her hood.

She’s been with me a long time, my ’95 Honda Odyssey. I bought her in 2001, right after college, alongside my first full-time job and my very own apartment. I named her Penelope, in hopes she’d embody the steadfast character Homer chronicled so long ago. She goes by Penny and is still running some 270,000 miles later.

Sometimes when I look back on the past 12 years I feel lonely. Eight homes in five different states, three jobs, and now graduate school.  I’ve been living a life that edges on overload in the “new and interesting opportunities” department. I’ve left homes and communities that are dear to me and started new with tentative taproots. I’ve explored numerous places and many miles. Some on planes and trains and buses, most in my fading green Odyssey with her sun-roof and flip-down backseats that accommodate a whole summer’s worth of living supplies without a fuss.

In 2010 I left my home where I had put down eight-year-old roots at the base of the Rockies. In saying goodbye, the dearest five-year-old gave me a picture he’d drawn. It was of him and me holding hands and he insisted it hang on my ‘fridge.  Bowing to the realtor’s advice for salability, the refrigerator was to stay “clutter-free and neutral.”  So I took the Scotch tape out to the parking lot and hung that crayon offering on the passenger glove box, where it brought close the love for a few years to come.

I’ve been with Penny through two timing belts, and a few batteries, an ongoing saga with cables, new brakes and ball bearings, and more oil changes than I can count.  She’s driven me through relationships beginning and ending, career changes, loosing grandparents, long-term illness, starting graduate school, my parents’ divorce, and the weddings of more friends than she can count.

I look at her graying hood as I pat her dash and whisper,
“Just get us through grad school Penny. A few more years and then you can rest.”


2 Replies to “Penny: Ode to my Vehicle”

  1. wonderful. we keep heaping praise on our honda crv. mom’s prelude survived the volcano eruption and many years of alaska’s rain until alas she rusted out. last night a friend shared her memories of a wonderful honda. continued success and congrats to penny for dedication and years of service AHO

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