In celebration of the Two Year Anniversary of Me & My Car, today’s Field Trip was to the DEQ. I have conflicting feelings about the DEQ.

On one hand, clean air! I like cleaner air! You can breathe, and the sky is clearer, and the water is cleaner, and people are happy! And the earth sings a little song of joy!

On the other hand, there’s the nervous tension. Will my car pass? Crap. The car in front of me didn’t pass. I bet mine won’t either. I hope I don’t burst into tears when they tell me. Oh please God, don’t let me cry at the DEQ.

And the $75 fee.

I force myself to think happy, clean air thoughts. I write in my notebook while I wait, coffee-jittery hands clutching my pen. Note to self: healthfulness of oatmeal does not outweigh an overdose of caffeine. You will be jittery. You also might still think that going to Starbucks and using your gift card is a good idea. Make yourself come home and eat lunch first. Good girl.

In spite of having owned a car since I was sixteen, this is only my second trip to the DEQ ever. You might think, based on that sentence, that I have 1) rich parents who bought me a car and 2) parents who took the car to the DEQ for poor little unmechanical me. But you would be dead wrong.

My parents did buy me a car. That part is true. They spent approximately $200 on it. It was a ’68 Dodge Coronet but deep down it was a Big Blue Boat. Being made before 1975, it did not need to pass DEQ. And I spent 6 blissful years driving it without ever encountering the DEQ. And then I grew up. And got a car made in my lifetime. (For the record, the goal with my next car is to have one that was made since I started driving – ie, since 1997.)

The features of my Big Blue Boat included, but were not limited to: an AM radio, wing windows, plastic seats, 2 doors, about 1,000 square feet of leg room, turn signal lights on the corners of the hood, a leaky gas tank, and a trunk that both leaked & could be napped on when shut. I was rear-ended twice and the only damage was a little paint scraped off. You could have killed someone with one of the doors. It looked the same dirty or clean.

Sometimes I see old cars driving down the street and I miss my boat.

Except when it’s really hot and I’m driving around with the AC on and listening to a CD, a tape, or FM radio while using gas efficiently. In a car the passed the DEQ test.