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2002-02-27 - 7:37 p.m.

I clean out my car rarely. And by rarely, I mean every three or four years. Of course, the usual trash – napkins, flyers, Gatorade bottles (a lot of Gatorade bottles) – are removed with some degree of regularity. But some things get stuck in odd corners, or wedged into those little pockets on the side of my doors that I never, ever use. I forget that stuff’s there. Easier to ignore it after a while.

Part of it is because I drive such a large car – a 1990 Isuzu Trooper, to be exact. I’ve got a lot of space to throw things around. So I do. I've been known to drive around with large pieces of furniture in the back of my car, for weeks at a time, usually because I had found someone to help me load it into the back of my car, but neglected to find someone to help me carry it out.

Also, my car has over 185,000 miles on it. I think I've always suffered from this superstitious fear that fixing it up, on an aesthetic level (from Rob: "Aesthetic things? Like the rear brake light you've neglected to fix for the past three months?"), was ensuring the car's untimely demise. That's why the air conditioning is broken, the tape player hasn't worked in three years, the back bumper is dented in two different places, and I never have any window washer fluid.

But a couple of weeks ago, on a nice warm Saturday afternoon when I had convinced myself I was too sick to go running, I cleaned out my car. I mean, I really cleaned out my car. Vacuumed and everything. Here’s what I found:

A coupon for Subway, from 1999.

A letter from Adrienne, wishing me good luck on my move to Texas (dated September 24, 1998).

A broken radar detector (my brother Michael left it in the car after our two-week trek driving through Mexico to Belize and Guatemala, which happened almost four years ago).

A copy of The Grand Inquisitor by Dostoyevsky and The Black Monk by Chekhov, two small Penguin books that Michael and I were supposed to read to each other on our two-week trek (we never actually read to each other; mostly, I stared out the window, and Michael composed journal entries in his head).

A flyer from a jazz club in Prague (having never actually driven to or through Prague, I think this was displaced during one of my many moves).

A phonebook (Salvatore has this annoying habit of leaving things in my car, every single time I drive him anywhere – usually just water bottles, although sometimes I get whole stacks of flyers for Film Society screenings; he really hinders my effort to keep the car clean).

A map of Belize.

A map of Mexico.

A map of Guatemala.

A box of old clothes that I intend to donate to Goodwill, but never have (only in the back of my car since June).

A letter to Trey, undated, on mildewed lined notebook paper, which said the following:

Dear Trey,
You might never forgive me for this, but it's something that I have to do. I feel I've said everything I need to say to you. I'm sorry it didn't work out.

I have no idea when this was written, but it could have been written almost a dozen times over the seven years I've owned this car. I guess I never delivered it to him.

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