There's something about the end of the year that just feels strange to me.

Lately, I've found myself thinking about the events that have transpired over the past year in my life. This is the first full year that I've spent living on my own away from my parents or other relatives. Needless to say, it's been quite an adjustment to be responsible for my bills and making sure I'm on time for work.

In addition, I was finally able to buy a new car, the first vehicle I have ever bought with my own money. I think the thing that stands out in my mind the most about that experience was actually having to say good-bye to the car I've owned since my parents moved to Louisiana two years ago.

It was a tiny little thing, a 2000 Lanos Daewoo, with a rusted hood and peeling tint. The lever to activate the turn signal was hanging by the wire used to convey the current needed to switch on or off the corresponding bulb. This was the result of a moment of confusion one morning earlier this year when I was driving to work and the lever would not move as I tried to turn left onto Upshaw Boulevard in Robstown.

As I waited in the turning lane for oncoming cars to pass, I pulled a little harder on the lever to see if it would budge. It didn't. More cars continued to pass and a pick-up truck passing me honked his or her horn. Whether it was because of my lack of a blinker or if the driver knew me, I'll never know. But when I heard the horn, I jumped a little and pulled the lever right out of the steering column with a surprisingly loud "Snap."

My first reaction was an expletive that would probably get me fired if I wrote it in here. I will say that it has four letters and is usually followed with "you."

My next reaction was dismay. The reason being I'd just paid nearly $1,000 to install a new radiator and clean the engine heads, work that had taken nearly three weeks. I had the car for less than a week when the lever decided to part ways with my car's steering column.

By the end of the week, I'd made the decision to buy a new car. In my mind, I knew that I wanted a Saturn, a dark shade of red if possible. My girlfriend helped me by calling whenever she saw a car for sale that matched my criteria or offering advice on how to get a dealer to lower his or her price.

After nearly a month of searching, my girlfriend called to tell me she'd seen a Saturn at a car dealer in Corpus Christi. It was exactly the color I was looking for and it was only a few years old. Plus, the mileage was less than 40,000.

It took one test drive to figure out that this was the car I had been looking for. After some discussion with the dealer, I made my offer and he accepted, and the time finally came to clean out my car and trade it in.

But as I was cleaning it out, I started to feel somewhat sentimental. After all, I had a lot of memories associated with that car. My cousin and I used to drive to Best Buy every pay period to hunt down new music and I nearly killed his girlfriend and him during a trip to get dinner (we laugh about it now). Old friends used to ride with me to get-togethers in that car and we had a blast just being young and stupid.

Now, as I look back on the moment I said good-bye to my car, I see that it was really more than just an automobile to me. It was I closing a chapter in my life and opening up a new one.

And as the New Year gets ready to roll around, it's time, yet again, to put another chapter behind me. I have little doubt the next one will be more exciting than the last, as it should be.