Three years ago today, I chose her. 100,000+ miles later, my first book is one month away from being published.

Taralei Griffin
Dec 22, 2019 · 5 min read
The author & “Libby” at a TN Nissan Dealership, December 22, 2016

*Disclaimer: this is NOT an ad, paid or otherwise, for Nissan.

On December 22nd, 2016, I walked into a car dealership feeling hesitant. I was finally going to buy my first car at the age of 25.

I knew exactly what I wanted — a blue Nissan Versa, preferably previously owned. A salesman immediately showed me to a midnight blue 2017 sedan and had me test drive it. It was beautiful, drove smoothly, and the sound system was incredible, but it was way out of my price range. The salesman showed me to a few other cars and began seeming frustrated. “I really think that dark blue sedan would be best.”

I stared at him blankly, and repeated, “But I literally cannot afford it.”

He finally, reluctantly walked me out to where the used vehicles were parked. Before he could point out any one car, I spotted her, the exact shade of bright blue that I had imagined in my head shining in the sun. I walked right up to her and placed my hands on her hood. The sign on the window showed that she was within my price range.

“You like this one?” the salesman asked, seeming surprised. “Really?”

He let me test drive it and told me the details. It was a 2015 Nissan Versa Note, previously leased for only one year. It wasn’t as smooth of a ride as the brand new car, but she handled easily. All the locks and windows were manual, and the radio didn’t have a Bluetooth connection. That would be a hassle, especially since I was a rideshare driver, but I knew — this was my car.

The salesman seemed to have accepted that he wasn’t going to sell me on a brand new car. We went back inside and began signing papers. I was definitely screwed over on the payment plan — I’ve since found out I could be paying a lot less per month if I had gotten a similar car… well, anywhere else.

I posed for a picture next to my new car and drove to my parent’s house where the family was gathered for the holidays, eager to show off the product of my latest level up in the game of Adulthood.

I named her Liberty, or Libby for short.

I no longer had to rely on borrowing a car from my dad for work, or friends to give me rides places. I was truly independent.

Three years and more than 100,000 miles later, Libby and I have been through a lot together.

In February 2017, I got a flat and drove her to a tire shop on my spare. They told me both of my front tires were so old they were literally crumbling from the inside. I had them load the popped tire into my trunk, drove to the dealership, and carried the flat tire inside, set it at the feet of several managers and the salesman who had sold me my car, and demanded to know why I was told that all four of the tires on my car were brand new when it was clearly a lie. They replaced both for free, and later one of the maintenance guys told me, “Honestly, we were scared you were going to throw that tire through the windows. How did you carry that thing in on your own, anyway?”

We’ve been rear-ended four times, twice with heavy enough damage that the bumper and rear door had to be replaced. The current bumper has a hole covered with a piece of duct tape that was caused by a hit and run done by a drunk driver in Nashville. I’ve had another couple flats, once earlier this year in a snow storm that turned all of southern Illinois into a white and grey blur.

I taught myself to change her tires and oil properly. When the weather allows, I wash and vacuum her regularly, even now that I no longer drive for any rideshare companies. She may be a small car, but she’s got more than enough space for me, my dog, and whatever I need to carry with me for a day trip or even a month long journey.

With Libby, I’ve given more than 4,000 rides for Uber and Lyft, multiple rides to friends, family, dogs, and the occasional hitch hiker. I’ve made multiple trips back and forth when moving from one apartment to another. I’ve driven to DC, Philly, New York City, Chicago, St. Louis, Atlanta, Louisville, all over the state of Florida multiple times, up to the Twin Cities for my ten year high school reunion this past September, and last fall, I took my dog Layla on a road trip from the headwaters of the Mississippi River at Lake Itasca in Minnesota, which eventually ended, more than 3,000 miles later, in Venice, Louisiana, where the river meets the Gulf of Mexico.

Although I knew buying a car would impact my life, I didn’t know just how far it would take me when I first spotted my car in the lot 3 years ago.

I can’t wait for you all to read about our longest & most creative journey in my debut book, THE GREAT MEANDER — and I can’t wait to see where Libby, Layla, and I will go next.

❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤ ❤

Instead of an excerpt from THE GREAT MEANDER, for December I wanted to share a bit about the car that made this trip possible.

For more stories from my road trip of the Great River Road,
click the “The Great Meander” tab on the
Meridian Creators page for more from my upcoming travel memoir,
THE GREAT MEANDER, available January 29th, 2020!

Meridian Creators

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