Shirley & Me: The End of An Era

Monday was my birthday.

I celebrated the 8th anniversary of my 20th year of existence.. Each year on my birthday, not only do I celebrate my life, but also the life of my first car.

There comes a time in a teenager’s life when they grow a deep desire for liberation from their parent’s backseat. Teens want their own wheels. I know I did. When you’re making chump change at your first job ($6.10/hr for me in 2004), buying a car or at least a new car is far from reality in high school.

Growing up the brat that I was, I EXPECTED my parents to just give me a car. In my head, I figured my parents would magically buy me a dope ass car just because I was their child and it was their job to make me happy.


They checked my entitlement at the door. I distinctly remember my parents sitting me down for the “The world don’t owe you shit” talk. They are Civil Rights babies. I am a millennial. Of course we saw things a bit differently.

Archive footage of the day I realized I wasn’t rich.

Photo Credit: Giphy

Be humble or be humbled.

I remembered they’d purchased a 1987 Honda Accord for my older sister just five years earlier, surely I’d experience the same fate. All I could think about was driving to school in my cheerleading uniform, looking snatched while the car I was driving looked like it came out of a 1920’s silent film.


Seriously, an old car wasn’t an option for my social agenda but I knew that’s what it would be. The day before my 16th birthday, my parents told me they had found a used 1989 Toyota Cressida on the side of the road and were going to inquire about getting it for me before school started on Monday.

Me when I found out what a 1989 Toyota Cressida looked like.

Photo: Giphy

To give you insight into the way Tyler Young’s brain worked in 2004, I just knew that my social life was over.

I remember sitting at my grandma’s house all day waiting on my parents to return with the car. They came back. No car. I was a bit relieved because that would be one more day that I could prolong riding around in abeat-upp car. Just being honest. We drove from my grandma’s house back to ours and my parents told me that they couldn’t find a car in time and said I’d have to ride the bus for a few months. I was so sad because I knew most of my classmates would be returning to school after summer break with new cars to start junior year. We got home, and I gave them a half smile, reassuring them that I was okay.

I went walking through the house to go to my room and cry to God about how disappointed I was when I looked out the back door and saw a car in the backyard. I was freaked out because no one ever parks in the backyard. I froze then yell to my parents, “Whose car is that? Omg. Did someone breakin?”. (I hate me for even admitting this.) I turned to look at my parents and they stood there with smiles on their faces. I ran outside and immediately fell in love. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. A car, that was mine and it was new. My parents got me a brand new, 2004 Honda Civic the day before my 16th birthday.

I knew I was in love.

In true Hillary Banks fashion, I thanked them and asked them to never scare me like that again. I said something like “Thank you for not buy me an old car.” I was overcome with emotions. I had never driven a car alone and they let me take it up the road for a spin.

I didn’t go over 35 mph, because that was the speed limit but also, I knew I wanted to preserve this car as long as I could.

16 candles.

shirley I drove to school the next day, prideful as ever. Years later, my mom would admit “a piece of me drove off in that car with you.”

It was me and Shirley against the world.

I named my car Shirley. She was gray, so she didn’t deserve an ultra hip name. The name Shirley reminded me of that one auntie everyone has who is super lit all the time. She looked old, but could get it in with the best of them.

The morning of my first day of 11th grade, I pulled out of the driveway, got to the end of the street and turned up the volume on the radio with my favorite cursing CD. I drove to school getting my entire life. My mom gave me like one day to enjoy the excitement. Then reality hit me. Cars are not to be played with and I needed to be extra careful while on the road. The next day..she went over this entire list of things that would get the car taken away. Sex, drugs and bad grades were basically banned. (I managed to do all but 1 on her laundry list)

My mom was like..

Photo Credit: Giphy

So naturally, I thought she was playing when she told me “I’ll have you back on that yellow taxi if you try me.” And she held to her word. I tried her. Maybe three months into driving Shirley,  I don’t remember what I did, but mama made me DRIVE MY CAR TO THE DAMN BUS STOP and ride to school.

Archive footage of me boarding the bus.

Photo: Tumblr

Exclusive image of the driver and kids when they saw me walk on the bus.

Photo Credit: Tumblr

So as my days were numbered in high school, I drove the hell out of Shirley and became quickly humbled. Within a year someone had keyed my car and I hit my best friend’s mailbox. Shirley was truly in for a rough ride, but we kept on pushing.

Two years later, my mom also held to her word that I could not take the car off to college with me freshman year. I legit had separation anxiety when my parents dropped me off at my dorm. I missed them and my car. I felt helpless. When we reunited, and it was pure euphoria for Shirley and I.

To summarize this blog that has turned into a love story about my car, I will say that 230,000+ miles later, it has been a wild ride. Last minute road trips, crying out of a speeding ticket, long talks with Jesus, rescuing friends from tomfoolery, driving to dates, driving from hell dates, falling in love, falling out of love, my first car crash…Shirley saw it all. And I do mean all..

By 2013, she began to deteriorate. The paint had faded and a few minor hiccups. I hit a pole at the bank. (I also hit a person, I refuse to tell that story but no charges were filed because my God is a merciful God. Word to the wise people, don’t stand in parking spaces.)

For the most part, Shirley held up. The once shiny new car, was the old lady at the party. As my friends began to purchase new cars after college graduation well into our early adult years, I pulled up beside them with my best friend that I’d had for the last decade. I ordered food at drive-thrus  competing with the sound of Shirley. The fast food folks would look out the window and side-eye me like “damn that’s a loud ass car.” But I didn’t care. I felt the same way about my car as I did the first time I laid eyes on her. Shirley was mine, no matter how old or loud she was. Then it happened.

She broke down on me at the airport recently.


What a day. Minor fix, but I realized that with the many miles I need to travel, Shirley might not make it. Two weeks ago my mom literally drove me to the car dealership, and left me there all day. And the rest is another story to be told.

Meet Bianca.

The feeling is indescribable of making my first major purchase. I shed a tear when I left Greenville to go back to my home in Charlotte.

It was the first time I’d gone without Shirley.


But hey, life goes on.

Birthday. #GirlTyler #leoseason

A video posted by Girl Tyler (@sheistyler) on

You never forget your first love. Shirley is mine.

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I'm a girl. My name is Tyler. Girls can be named Tyler.

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