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Sydney… January 21, 2008

Posted by Natasha in Uncategorized.
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Will be blogged about another day, when I recover from my ear infection that I really shouldn’t have flown with. (Who’d have thought a little blood behind the ear drum could be so painful?)

Meanwhile, my ring:

My Opal Engagement Ring

NOJ January 11, 2008

Posted by Natasha in Life.
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After my Dad died in 1990, we didn’t have a car. For 12 years, getting around meant catching a bus, train, hitching a ride with friends or family, or walking. When I was 16, I went for my learners, and being the cocky idiot that I was back then, didn’t study, and subsequently failed. That put a bit of a dint in my pride, and I “Didn’t need a car and didn’t want my license yet”.

That all changed when I finished school, about 6 months after turning 18. Suddenly, my friends started driving. We would head out at midnight, go for cruises around the Dandenongs until 4am, drive to Drouin, Warragul, everywhere. Once I started uni, I realised that a daily city commute, walk-bus-train-tram/tram-train-bus-walk, from Hampton Park to the City was pretty painful on Melbourne’s public transport system. Suddenly I wanted a life that I’d never been able to have before – one in which I controlled where I went and when. I went for my learners in January 2002, and got a perfect score. I turned out to be a good driver, and on my 19th birthday, sat for my probationary license, and the only point I lost was for a failure to reverse-observe when doing my 3 point turn. I passed, and suddenly I had a piece of plastic that said I could drive – something my Mum never had.

I moved out of Hampton Park in June of 2002, to live with my grandparents ‘for a few months’. In the August, they gave me one of the most significant opportunities of my life – a loan for a car.

I checked out a few, but being so tall, I was fairly limited in what I could drive and afford. I ended up at a dealer, buying a 1992 VP Commodore Station Wagon, in white. It had been an ex fleet car, so it was old before its years, but I fell in love with it.

That month, I was filling up its 68 litre tank twice a week. Thankfully petrol could be bought on Thursdays at the right petrol station for just 79.9 cents per litre. I drove everywhere. I could initiate those crazy midnight cruises, and I could get myself to places I had never been before. I finally got to experience what most people do at 18: Independence.

My ShagginVagon quickly became christened NOJ – an obvious choice given the rego. He was a beast – a very thirsty one – but he could get me anywhere and handle anything. A king single bed, a huge book case, an entire guide unit’s weekend camping supplies. I could take anything anywhere.

On a camping trip in May of ’03, Mr Yellow’s tent (he was not yet married to my best friend Mrs Yellow) sprung a leak. Noj became the perfect home away from home – down went the seats, out went the gear, and in climbed three very grateful people. I won’t say it was a comfortable sleep for poor Mrs Yellow, who, being the shortest, ended up in the front seat, but Mr Yellow and I had quite a good night’s sleep!

Time and again, Noj was the vehicle of choice any time anything had to be transported, or any time portable shelter was required. Picnics atop olivers hill, with three of us in the back of the car, loading up to the point of suspension melt-down, and of course a station wagon is the perfect drive-in car.

He gave me grief on many occasions, and had a penchant for breaking down just before Christmas (Flat batteries, cracked harmonic balancer, and a $2500 service bill to name just a few December dramas), but though he grumbled about it on many occasions (stalling when put into gear – did I mention it was an automatic? – was a favourite trick) he always started, and always got me to where I needed to go.

Uni seemed to be a time of permanent broke-ness, and the Ex was always giving me grief about looking after him better. Fed with the bare minimum of petrol, and maintained with only hope and a promise, he kept going.

When I moved out of my granparents’ house in 2006 (so much for a few months!) I had almost a full house load of supplies. I didn’t need a truck. Everything got loaded into the back of Noj, and in a few trips, I was moved. Even after running up someone’s bum that day, and ripping off the bumper bar, the car was fine.

I met Mr G in the September of ’06, and less than a month later, a Noj related incident lead to him moving in with me. I returned to my car one Saturday morning to find that someone had broken into Noj, and taken so many parts that it couldn’t be driven. distraught, I made sure that repairs were carried out. Later in the October, Mr G and I started a trend of Car-Camping. Who needs a tent? With a station wagon you can just get yourself a comfy mattress and you have all the accommodation you need, with the best morning views around.

Noj even managed to get us, and all our gear, all the way to Mallacoota and back, over Cup weekend of ’06.

By the time Noj was broken into a second time, in January of ’07. The costs were adding up, and he was showing more signs of becoming a tired old car. Desperately in need of a service, and financially not worth the many thousands of dollars this would need, unconsciously I started running him into the ground.

He held up remarkably well, taking us on another Car-Camping trip down the Great Ocean road, and up to the Otways then the Grampians over Easter weekend ’07.¬† Waking up (after finally being left alone by the mozzies) illegally parked/camped in the Geelong Botanic gardens was a thrill, and Noj was a welcome place to nap once we reached Anglesea later in the day.

Sadly though, Noj continued to deteriorate throughout 2007, and by the time rego was due in December, Mr G and I had decided the time had come to get rid of him. With so many problems – major leaks every time the air con was on, random stalling, an odometer stuck on 308,000 k (When I got the car, it was on 137,000, and probably should have read 340,000 by now), roof lining falling on my head, soggy carpet, – and of course the soaring petrol prices driving down the resale value of V6 cars in general, and ones in better condition than Noj down to the sub $1000 mark; we decided that he had reached the end of his life. When, 2 weeks after the rego had expired, we took a trip down to the peninsula (to book our wedding) and got pulled over by the police (for the first time ever) and were fined for being unregistered, Noj’s fate was sealed. He had been on his last ever cruise.

So Noj, I’m sorry that I didn’t take better care of you, and that your ‘life’ ended the way it did. You represent an awesome period in my life – the transition from childhood to adulthood, and I’m sorry that I can’t have any more memories of you as I begin the next stage of my life.

You were an awesome First Car.