Earlier today, an errand to find some Toys for Tots toys failed to happen because my RAV4 got rear-ended. A lady in a Corolla hit her gas pedal instead of her brake pedal, smashing the left side of my rear bumper. My tire cover is scuffed, my license plate is bent, and part of my license plate bracket is missing. The damage also extends to the cargo area. Because I’m not at fault and the damage isn’t severe, my parents won’t have to pay the deductible and the RAV4 will probably not be totaled. With the RAV4 likely out of service for the rest of 2018, I reflected on the fact that some of my best memories of the year were made with the RAV4.

Between the beginning of the year and now, I’ve put over 15,000 miles on the RAV4, a surprising amount for a college student who lives at school, hasn’t driven out of state, and has a 15-mile roundtrip when I do have work. 2018 wasn’t the best year of my life, mainly due to social strife I was dealing with at school. I felt out of place, my living situation was terrible, and I had a solution to help me out: driving home every weekend. This roadtrip was an excellent way for me to pass time on boring Friday afternoons. I created my own mental memes about my commutes to and from school: my left tires kissing the storm drains on I-20E in Atlanta, the stupidity of people taking Exits 67A and 67B (the I-285 exits) on I-20W since they clogged traffic, and the semis who came out of nowhere after Exit 49, Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Listening to a playlist on Pandora Premium called “Older Stuff”, I made the nice drive from school to home at 11 AM each Friday, and I drove from home to school at around 5 PM each Sunday. These roadtrips racked up the miles, and my local friends told me to transfer to KSU to save my parents’ money, but I didn’t want to. I chose my school for its program, and my parents knew I needed to make the drive home for the reasons listed previously.

During my weekends home and during the summer, I drove friends around. I don’t like being the passenger; with a nice backseat and safety, I’m a great chauffeur. Instead of sitting in a restaurant and talking, I’d drive a friend around and talk with them. One day, I drove one of my friends, who lives about 10 miles from me, to my area just to have lunch with her. This allowed for more conversation, and for more driving time. I don’t need a manual transmission or 500 HP to have a good drive; my four-cylinder RAV4 suits my needs well. Sometimes, I like to put the cruise control on and ride along, listening to beautiful songs like “Edge Hill” by Groove Armada or “La femme d’argent” by Air. With the bass at +3 and the treble at +1, the RAV4 is a nice stereo, too.

Speaking of cruise control, the spontaneous trips created some great memories with the RAV4. One time, right before finals, I drove down to downtown Dublin just to take some pictures of the downtown. A few times, I made a 70-mile roundtrip just to get breakfast at Hardee’s. Some found these journeys to be ridiculous, but to me, they had a purpose. I wanted to see Dublin; I hopped on the highway, saw Dublin was 40 miles ahead, and told myself that I’d make it there. As for Hardee’s, their biscuits are great, and the town this Hardee’s was in was a new place I’d never visited before. There are many places in Georgia I’d love to visit with the RAV4, and being in central Georgia has provided new opportunities I never had. Going somewhere is special, but it’s more special in the RAV4.

A few hours ago, I posted my first Instagram picture in four months, a picture of me and my sister. With such a long gap between posts, I’d been debating my photo return for at least a month. A caption I really wanted was “I didn’t get into any accidents this year, so I guess this was a good year.” Unfortunately, right before the end of the year, I wasn’t able to fulfill the goal of that caption. The collision center did an excellent job with the RAV4 last December, and I know that they’ll do a good job again this time. However, with the new places visited, the drives experienced, and the satisfaction I gained from the car this year, I believe this was the best year for my 2012 Toyota RAV4 Limited.