She’s the kind of actress, generous well beyond her years, that’s earned a reputation of doing the nitty gritty character work that makes her so respected and well liked, all with the utmost humility, carrying on her job like a consummate professional day in and day out. She doesn’t work for scale. She is not a member of the union. Now fifteen years old, she’s been a beloved character actor in two of my films. When people that have seen my movies see her in person, they often times stop in their tracks and say, “Wasn’t that her in your movie?” I nod, smile and say yes. If she could sign autographs and take a selfie with these starstruck folks that come across her, I think she would.
But she can’t. In movie language, she would be categorized as a ‘prop,’ or ‘movie prop car.’ She’s a majestic Navy Blue Chevrolet V-8 Silverado 1500. Not being a real “car guy,” I wasn’t entirely sure what all those numbers meant, but I knew they were good. A quick ‘fact check’ enlightened me to the data: The 2002 Silverado’s 5.3-liter, 285-horsepower V8 engine is equipped with a 4-speed automatic overdrive transmission or 5-speed manual transmission. It offers 325 pound-feet of torque at 4,400 revolutions per minute and a compression ratio of 9.5:1. She is considered ‘first generation’ in her Silverado lineage.
I’m coming to terms with having to sell “the ole girl” as I like to call her, and it’s starting to hit me just how much she’s meant to me. These days, she’s pretty beat up. She doesn’t always start up on the first try. There’s a nice crack that has blossomed over time and now stems about half the windshield. There’s new colors and texture that have been added to her surface after a number of battles with LA parking garage polls and cement walls. Always the victor, she has the battle scars that have made her the awe of random children walking out of a restaurant with their parents wanting to take a family photo with her (I kid you not). She’d make for a great Christmas card. These scars have earned her a hard fought reputation in the middle of L.A. freeways, in which she seems to gain a little more respect when changing lanes, as the owner clearly seems to be a bit reckless and has made a roaring statement that she ain’t afraid to take a hit. Power and grace in her elderly age.
She’s got a bit over 220,000 hard earned miles on her that have taken me everywhere from Santa Barbara, to the deserts of Arizona and the craziness of Las Vegas. We’ve been through a lot together, her and I. Daily casual drives and memories that will last a lifetime, silent nights of hard thinking and days of absolute raging and screaming at the top of my lungs the lyrics of Queen, Frank Sinatra, The Eagles, Snoop D-O-Double-G and Biggie. She’s taken me to a number of jobs and created a few more for me, as I’ve become rather popular in the L.A. area when it comes to moving people in and out of their apartments.
The days when I’ve had next to nothing in my bank account and no real way to pay for gas or food other than what I could earn the next day working with my uncle installing windows, she was there for. Taking me where I needed to be and providing a safe place of contemplation and personal development. Her audio system either amped me up, helped me to think, or provided the sounds of the Dodgers game to take me back to my childhood memories for just a few minutes. In the times when I felt that I had no direction or purpose, she offered her steering wheel as a shoulder to cry on. There were a lot of those times. She was there, my partner in crime, for the times when a pitch was successful or when we loaded her bed with film equipment for my next shoot. She was there plugging away day after day doing her job the best that she could, even when I pushed her to the brink of breaking down. That happened a lot.
The other day, while exiting the freeway, I rear-ended a very kind middle-aged woman. Not very hard but enough to where, now as I step into my car, I have to push the headlight back into the frame, like pushing an eyeball hanging from its socket back into its skull. I don’t know what it was about this particular minor accident that told me it was time to let go but it put a final nail in the coffin that it was time for me to move on. I needed an upgrade.
It feels wrong, almost as if I’m a successful middle-aged millionaire that’s giving up his wife of 25 years to marry a 19 year-old super model, but I know the time is right. It’s just the way life works. As I climbed back into my car and have driven it in the following weeks, a flood of memories and meaning has become so apparent to me. This truck is the perfect symbol of the journey that I’ve been on over the past three or four years. In my personal life, she’s been there through some of the most unforgettable memories of my life. She took me home after a painful breakup and she carried me home on the cloud I floated on after the most amazing, most unforgettable first date of my life. She’s been there for times that I said I love you and the times where everything seemed lost. She was there for the birth of the little girl who has taught me that I could love so much more than I thought I was capable of—my goddaughter. She provided protection on the way home from the hospital that day, hazards on, driving slowly behind my sister and her husband with the new addition to our family in tow. She knows how to pull me back to the moments that she knows mean the most to me.
We’ve been through a lot together, “the ‘ole girl” and I. Her bumps and bruises representative of everything that I felt along this intense journey of personal growth. Her broken headlight, that I continue to push back in, always reminds me to turn the lights back on and see all the beauty that lies just ahead of me, every time that I think there’s not much to be grateful for. It’s going to be hard to let go of her soon and trade her in for something that may be classier, more stylish and better on gas, but no one will ever get the job done the way she did. She was perfect and everything that I wanted to be—when low on gas, in need of an oil change or a new transmission, no matter what she continued to push forward. Everyday there she is, there I am, continuing to go, rain or shine, through the elation and the downtimes life has to offer, always leading me down the highways through the traffic back where I need to be—home.
Photo Credit: Getty Images