2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71: The End Of The Affair

July of 2013. Somewhere between Death Valley and the Mojave Desert, with the scorching summer sun beating down upon the bleached blacktop. Colin Firth’s perfectly accented voice reading the conclusion of Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair.

My white 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe Z71 carried me towards San Bernardino from Albuquerque on my journey to Cayucos, where I was headed to visit my great uncle through the nothingness of the desert and the interminable heat. It can drive a person crazy, particularly when you’re alone. While I don’t mind being alone, sometimes it’s not best to stew in your own thoughts for that long of a stretch. Instead, I listened to audio books on my iPhone, connected to the Bose stereo system via an auxiliary cable. The Tahoe had Bluetooth capability for phone but not for media. I didn’t mind.

My Tahoe has witnessed, and at times been party to, the ends of many an affair. The beginnings, as well — changing relationships, changing jobs, moving homes. The big white truck carried me both willingly and reluctantly from one place to the next, safely and successfully weathering storms both meteorological and emotional. It carried my amazing daughter, my German shepherd, Stella, and my most personal belongings on the journey from Albuquerque to Columbus. From time to time, it has also carried my preferred demons. It made sure I arrived to countless physical therapy appointments and home from several surgeries. In the 114,524 miles we were together, it betrayed me only once.

After a car crash three and a half years ago, as my broken pelvis and back were healing, the Tahoe became insufferable. It wasn’t just the bones that had to heal. The force of the crash had torn ligaments, tendons and muscles. My four month convalescence, post crash, was purposefully absent of physical therapy as per my doctor’s instructions.

During that time, I experienced considerable atrophy of my core muscles, to the point that I lost over twenty pounds. I couldn’t sit it in the Tahoe for more than twenty minutes without unbearable pain, thanks to the upright angle of the seat coupled with the stiff suspension of the Z71 package. As a result, I simply stopped driving, unless I absolutely had to. I’d gone from putting around 25,000 miles a year on it in the high, dry desert of Albuquerque to about 5,000 a year in Ohio.

Every other week, I had to make a four-hour round trip to another one of my company’s offices. I would stop twice on the way down in the morning to walk around for a couple of minutes, but without fail I would arrive at work in a tremendous amount of pain. It would ease somewhat during the day and, on the way home, I would typically stop halfway, recline the seat as much as I could, and sleep until the pain was bearable enough to continue home. As I was driving, taking my pain medication was out of the question. When I finally admitted this struggle to Jack, he suggested that I start driving his Accord instead, which helped.

I became angry with my Tahoe. Resentful. I would remark about how much I hated it. After all, it had betrayed me after we’d been through so much together. I’d been patient in my search for it. I had scoured lots, dealer websites, and test driven other makes and models only to be disappointed and further determined to hold out for exactly what I wanted. I’d always wanted a white Tahoe, but thanks to a combination of time, pressure, and difficult dealerships, my first Tahoe ended up being blue and the one that followed was black.

This time I’d managed to get almost exactly what I wanted. My only concession on this Tahoe was a lack of heated seats, which was fine because it had everything else: Z71 with tow package, leather seats, nav delete with the rear view camera in the mirror, DVD players in the headrests for my kid, Bluetooth phone, and brushed metal accents instead of the fake wood I never cared for in a Tahoe.

So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I grew emotionally attached to this truck, and it shouldn’t be surprising that I felt betrayed by its inability to take care of me after the crash. Yet I was still taken aback by how difficult it was to part with this vehicle, this tool, this machine. Jack and I decided a few months ago that we needed to purchase a tow vehicle for “Marilyn,” our NC Mazda MX-5 Cup Car. As such, the Tahoe immediately became superfluous. I have Matt Farah’s Fiesta ST as my daily driver, and I have his little red Corvette as my trackday rat. (What can I say? He always wants to sell when I want to buy.) Add a tow rig to this fleet and really, the Tahoe doesn’t seem to fit in our plans or in the driveway.

The rub was that I didn’t think I’d be parting with it so soon. I thought we’d trade it in when we purchased the tow rig. And the purchasing of the tow rig was just talk — it was simply in the ether, and would come to fruition at some indeterminate point in the future. And, as I have healed over the last three years, the Tahoe has become more palatable. It still makes me hurt, but not as much. A couple of Mondays ago, however, I received an email from Jack with the subject line, “Last chance to back out…” He’d sold it. My. Tahoe. And there was no new tow rig sitting in the driveway. It’s much easier to let something (or someone) go when you’re experiencing the euphoria that comes with something (or someone) new.

And so the end came. Goodbye to all that, goodbye to my favorite Tahoe. The best one. The one I owned for the longest time; in fact, it was the vehicle I owned for the longest time period, point blank. I couldn’t watch it drive away. I couldn’t shake the man’s hand. As Colin Firth once read to me, “Love had turned into a love affair, with a beginning and an end.” My voice cracked as I said my goodbyes, so I turned quickly away and scurried back into the house as Jack wrapped up all the loose ends of the affair.


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