In February in 2005 I bought my first Jeep: a 1995 Jeep Wrangler. It was red with a black top, two details my girlfriend Tiffany said she wanted in a Jeep. As I was not as particular, when opportunity met with preparation I purchased it for $5000 and it all began.
|My First Jeep|
I had always wanted a Jeep, I use that term Jeep loosely as technically Jeep is a make although most people (with any sense) understand Jeep to be the two-door beast without a top (a CJ, YJ, TJ, etc.). From watching old History channel shows about WW2 and seeing the original Willy's bouncing around Europe winning the war; to movies and TV shows with the coolest most life-loving people cruising around with no top and no cares; all the way down to rappers in the 80's and 90's riding around with rims and light kits with sub-woofers for back seats I had an attraction to Jeeps.
A YJ in the movie “New Jack City” courtesy of http://www.outlawedoffroad.com/showthread.php/282-Jeeps-in-the-movies!!!
I remember clearly around lunchtime making the purchase and immediately taking it to be cleaned so I could surprise my girlfriend Tiffany at her job. The timing was perfect, she worked late and the front of her workplace was empty so I could position the Jeep perfectly. She walked out and asked, "Whose Jeep is this?"
"Mine!" I said. She didn't believe me and spent the next five minutes asking the same question. Once convinced, she spent another twenty minutes repeating the phrase, "You bought a Wrangler?"
I did and I named it The Red Rumbla. My girlfriend jumped in and displayed her superior stick skills...omg.
As with any ten year old car, there will always be work to be done on it. This is where a Jeep relationship differs from any other vehicle. If you ask someone about buying an older car and explain how much work it needs or could use, you will not get a positive reaction. But, when it comes to a Jeep there is a feeling of arousal when you talk about what work it requires.
The first thing I did to the R.R. was an engine flush and service, a skill taught to me by my father that pays wonderful dividends. I then hooked up with a mechanic who did some work on my transmission to smooth out the shifting (I think it is sacrilegious to drive an automatic Jeep) and I ordered a new soft top. Once it arrived I gave the R.R. a thorough cleaning and waxing and put the new top on, WOW.
Weeks in, my Jeep was my new ride, my new hobby and my new perspective in life. Prior to it I only had cars, so riding high in a go anywhere, do anything vehicle was the best.
In that Jeep I had no radio, no AC, no interior lights no frills at all. It was a solid body, engine, seats and a steering wheel. What I did have was opportunity. Driving that Jeep gave me the opportunity to talk to my girlfriend Tiffany without distraction and as I built up that Jeep, I built up our relationship.
The Red Rumbla was a symbol for a beautiful stage in relationship building. We travelled to Eleuthera with it, discovering the island in four-wheel drive the way we discovered each other. Free of boundaries, with potholes, and dirt roads and branches in the way. We discovered who we were and would be as a couple with the top down and windows off.
As time passed, I got the hole in the back welded and closed up and painted on a bed liner; I got new roll bar covers; a branded tire cover, I changed out the distributor cables, the ignition coil; so many changes, upgrades and maintenance. I followed suit in my relationship and like my Jeep, it took me everywhere I wanted to go.
By late 2007, my Jeep was dying from a problem I could not find. I tried and tried but I had to give it up. In the end it made sense. I found a fellow Jeep lover, who took her and has not only solved the problem I could not, has continued to love and upgrade her.
The Red Rumbla was like a Phoenix in my life, it consumed itself so I could let go and move on. It knew my life and relationship was about to change and it did.
In January 2008, my girlfriend Tiffany and I bought a new Jeep Grand Cherokee as we knew that year we would be married and kids would follow soon after. The Red Rumbla was not appropriate for babies and she knew it. We pass her on the road sometimes being driven by her new owner, and my wife Tiffany and I always say hello.
I miss my Jeep because I appreciate what it taught me about life. That frills are not always necessary. Sure AC feels great in the summer, but you have to close up yourself and cut off the world to enjoy it. Just like material things in your life, you can have every luxury, but those luxuries and acquiring them can distract you from the simple things that build and maintain your relationships (like talking).
I miss my Jeep because I miss my girlfriend Tiffany and our selfish times together. Having my wife Tiffany and two kids means sacrificing a lot of your pre-marriage/pre-children relationship. I miss getting soaked in the rain in February because that pesky cowl seal has dry rotted and the bikini top does not really seal the top of the doors. I miss never needing a key to open the door as it was never locked, because most of the time the windows were off anyway (keeping no secrets). I miss that pink beach chair sticking out the back and practically living on the beach with a cooler and cold-ones with dinner.
I miss how easy it was to clean or not. I miss how cool it made me feel. I miss my hobby.
But I get it. The Red Rumbla taught me that you do not HAVE to have every option or push button feature to get where you want to go in life. There are times when you are down to nothing, but once you can get it in DRIVE, you can get there and in a Jeep state of mind that means ANYWHERE.
I miss it all, but I understand that it had its season. I read when my wife Tiffany wrote about the “Partnership” stage of our marriage and for me much of that is being a Father. My resources and energy go to maintaining our children. At this early stage of their lives they have to be my hobby so that in a few years when the day-to-day care is lessened, I might be able to get that 1976 Jeep CJ (Civilian Jeep) that pre-dates the Wrangler model name and do an off frame rebuild.
I think knowing I made that sacrifice for our children now will make riding around in another Jeep in a few years to come with my wife Tiffany that much more fun.
The Grand Cherokee is a more grown up Jeep. It does its job wonderfully and we love it too. But as God is my witness, another Jeep will return to our lives and my kids will be indoctrinated into the Jeep lifestyle. Trust me I have already started.
It's a Jeep thing and we understand.
Written By: Eric Nathan Hall