July 6, 2007
I've finally given in. I've pulled my last stubborn and trailing limb into the 21st century with the rest of me. I bought a new car. And not just any new car, but a hybrid.
I hadn't intended for this to happen—not yet anyway. Michael and I left home one Saturday morning for our usual ritual of coffee, breakfast, and driving around town scoping real estate, except this time we decided to change course and head to the car dealerships instead. Just for fun. Just to test drive a few cars and see what was out there. We came home hours later, exhausted, in two separate blue cars.
I had mixed feelings about buying a brand new car. On the one hand, Lulu (my '73 VW Bug) is a great car. She's fully paid for, runs great, is cheap to insure and maintain, and gives me little grief. She has air conditioning and a brand new CD/MP3 stereo system. And she's really cute. I feel that she accurately reflects my own identity: playful, adventurous, and outside-the-box.
The new Prius is great, too. It requires very little maintenance, gets great gas mileage, has lots of room and a usable cargo space, is eerily quiet, and everything works. She's basically the opposite of a classic VW. I've traded in personality for reliability and fuel-efficiency (as well as a big car payment!)
At the end of the first week with the Prius, I came home from work, threw myself on the couch and burst into tears. I had been wondering all week if I was doing the right thing. I had seen numerous blue Priuses all over town. One of them was even parked next to mine at the movie theater and it took me a second to figure out which was which. I realized I was now driving a rather unremarkable "normal" car. Then there was the hefty car payment and the fact that now I was actually in debt for something. (I've been 100% debt-free ever since I paid off my student loan last year.) Every day I would come home from work and see Lulu parked in the "guest parking" area, looking abandoned and forlorn. My fabulous little vintage car was going the way of the typewriter in a computer-filled world. I never thought a car could break my heart.
Michael was all patience and understanding. He let me cry and assured me that we could sell the Prius whenever we wanted. We could keep Lulu, too. He joked that we should name the Prius Booboo as in "Oops! What were we thinking?!"
In spite of my sentimentality, I'm very practical; it doesn't make sense to keep Lulu if I'm rarely going to drive her and I don't need her. It would be better for her to be with someone who would drive her and love her as I have.
I know it's time for a "real" car. A car that I can drive over mountains without wondering if she'll overheat. A car that lets me hear myself think. A car that doesn't smell like gas fumes and scorched dust. A car that is safe. A car with room. A car that will maybe carry kids someday.
I'm keeping the Prius and my identity and selling Lulu. I hope I can find her a good home.