Two years ago almost to the day I posted this piece about buying a new car. My sweet little car has several names: “Honey Ryder” “Pretty Princess” and my favorite “The Trophy Wife”.
But I sold my little Trophy Wife. She’s easy on the eye and has good strong tires. I can move her through some snow but not much because she’s a petite thing.
And that was brought home to me a couple of weeks ago as I was driving down a county road surrounded by open range. Sated on grass, the cattle were lounging in the road and arranged carefully like traffic pylons. It was a living breathing Far Side cartoon as I drove between the cows; careful to not swerve too quickly or tap them accidentally. Thankfully, they didn’t stand up and “greet” me with a kick to a headlight.
Maybe a bigger car would be a better idea? Maybe I should go back to an SUV and opt for a sunroof? Won’t it be nice to drive myself to the store after a deep snow? The Trophy Wife and I can manage up to ten inches of snow. After that, she’s in the garage pining for topless summer days and I’m phoning Mr. or Mrs. B to see if they can pick a few things up for me at the store. I’ve put my big girl panties on and I’m combing Craigslist for a winter workhorse.
When I moved to the yellow house all I cared about is having a place to garage her. I didn’t care if my things were in boxes and my clothing reduced to a carry-on bag’s worth of clothing, as long as my pretty girl had a warm dry garage. Mr. C didn’t disappoint and even resurfaced the garage floor. I will be forever grateful. But the time has come for me to put away childish things and sell the car. She has held her value well and I’ve had great adventures driving her. She taught me to love again. Cars that is. She also taught me the power of self-care. Thank you Honey Ryder. You will always be my favorite little trophy wife. (the following first appeared on edgyjunetravels.com Sept 19, 2012)
I did something incredibly impulsive. In fact, it’s the ballsiest thing I’ve ever done. I pulled a bunch of cash out of the bank, traded in the MINIvan and bought myself a very hot and relatively fast sports car. Our freeway on ramps have stop lights and some of the ramps are super short. I chose one of the shorter one’s on my way home from the dealership. Needless to say I felt like a Bond Girl when I punched the gas and flew down the ramp and onto the highway. It was almost better than sex.
This is my seventh car and out of the other’s only one of them did I truly love. If Wally hadn’t killed the Mitz I would probably have rolled it into the lot and just handed them the keys and said: “Here ya’ go!” I estimated she would have about 145,000 miles on her now had she lived. I loved that car: she was big and brawny, knew her way around deep snow and was happy to be of service. The only maintenance was routine. She wasn’t the prettiest car in the world but she was dependable and safe. Like Eleanor Roosevelt or Janet Reno.
The first car I bought myself was under duress. One bright Indian summer morning about 29 years ago, I was driving home from work–still living at home after graduation–my 1976 Sunbird EXPLODED in the middle of Brown Trail Road in Bedford Texas. The only convenient thing about this was it was exactly in front of the the garage and station we had our cars serviced. Jim, rushed to the front when he heard the very loud boom and rushed into the street to make sure I was ok. We pushed the car into the station and he hugged my shoulders because my high school sweetheart was very very dead. I had been saving with the intent to buy a 280Z or something similar but had to settle on something very boring and very cheap. My Sentra served me well until it died six years and 100K miles later. Pockmarked from an epic hail storm in July of 90, I retired the old girl in 1993.
Having kids demanded I have a car suited for car seats, car pool, and giant Man-sons. So I had a couple of station wagon (very fast ones, too. Ward referred to them as my “Mommy Hotrods”) and then the SUV. There was a brief flirtation with a convertible just before and after our divorce but it was a ridiculous car to have with kids, gear, and their friends so traded it in for the Mitsubishi. It was only by default and death I ended up with the MINI Van. It was free and reliable. I liked free and reliable. It was also, quite frankly, a gift from my mother because I needed a second car at the time. And then…I needed a car.
You could say my dad bought me this sports car. I think he’s probably whirling in his grave because I didn’t do something sensible with some of the money he generously left to me. Deep inside, there is a Puritanical woman who has pursed her lips to suck in a deep breath of disapproval that I have gone off and purchased a car I didn’t need. But it’s hard to hear a bossy stick slap a table as I rev the engine and the sound moves through the dual pipes. The guy who sold me the car–he’s a blog entry in himself–was shocked how up front I was about this being my Late Midlife Crisis. But hey, why lie? And what the hell reason would I have for buying such a toy except a midlife crisis? Isn’t this why such cars are even made?
To say it was exhilarating to hand over the mini van keys is a an understatement. This car symbolizes a very important part of my life past and the hands on part of mothering complete. I can drive a car that is completely frivolous and just for me. I no longer have to haul around more than one kid and it’s rare I have to drive that one. Beav–thank Heavens–has gotten passed feeling like his dad ruined his life with the gift of the Sebring Touring convertible. He straightened up after I lied and said his dad would take away the car if he didn’t STFU about it. After our twentieth conversation about how unfair and unjust the world is, I think I said something nurturing like: “Beav, listen to yourself: you’re being a Jack Ass and maybe your dad should just take the car away and you can walk to school, ride the train to work, and take the bus to my house.”
It was a warm, brilliant Indian Summer day, a true top down day, when I pulled out of the car lot. I eased into traffic, almost afraid someone would come after me and tell me I really didn’t own this car and it must be returned because the 1999 Galant was the car for me. A few blocks away, when it was obvious no one was going to stop me; I cackled with joy and then the cackled bubbled up into a belly laugh. I threw my head back and laughed for about six miles. I was free of so many things. I could do something just for me without apology or justification or even concessions to anyone else.
The best part of this whole story: I sold the Trophy Wife to a sweet friend who is now exactly where I was two years ago. Her youngest is a senior in high school and she is finally doing something extravagant for herself. When she questions people–just like I did–their unanimous response was the one I heard:
“Good for you! Enjoy!”
When I signed the title over I felt like I was passing a baton: Welcome to the empty nest, good for you. Enjoy.