I feel like I should have some kind of deep, insightful post after being away for so long. But it ain’t happening.
The thing I’ve been thinking about most lately (when I’ve had time to breathe between work and family commitments) is cars. Mostly that’s due to the fact that my trusty ’99 wagon is now getting on in years, and starting to fail me. It’s little things right now–the cigarette lighter stopped working about six months ago, which is a pain because I can’t use my cell phone charger anymore. The glove box door has been, shall we say, quirky, for more than a few years. The driver’s side sun visor is flapping in the breeze. The number of crumbs that my children have littered it with over the years approaches a googolplex.
So I’ve been contemplating my next car, and along the way, reminiscing about cars gone by. In high school, I drove a bitchin’ Camaro. I truly loved that car, with its massive V-8 engine. Sure it fishtailed at the slightest hint of rain, which meant I had an accident exactly 11 days after I got it. But once I got the back weighted down with 100 pounds of counterweights I “borrowed” from my high school theater, it was all good. To this day, the only speeding ticket I’ve ever gotten (knock wood) was in that car, after my brother dared me to see if I could go over 100 on the New Jersey Turnpike. A costly error in judgment.
My parents had all kinds of crazy cars growing up. At one point, we had a huge Mercedes sedan, which was from some time in the late ’50s or early ’60s, when they were enormous, round metal automobiles –ours was a sort of forest green. I think that was my first experience with a leather interior–it had such a distinctive smell, musty and antique.
There was also a Triumph Spitfire, a Volkswagen Beetle, and an Oldsmobile Ciera, which is the first car I ever remember our family owning that was actually new off-the-lot. My parents let me and my brothers pick the interior color, which was a phenomenal amount of responsibility at the time. I’m pretty sure we ended up with something like ‘Sand.’ In addition to those fine vehicles, there was also the conversion van, which provided our home away from home on many camping trips.
This wagon is the first new car I’ve ever owned, and it will be the first car that my kids really remember (it’s known affectionately as The Mommy Car). There are several stickers from political causes or rallies on the dashboard, and the Bee demonstrated her early facility as a reader by reading some of them aloud.
So as I think about replacing my car, it’s hard to do without reflecting back over the long seven years we’ve had together. A pretty transformative time in my life–we bought the car when we left California, when I was five and a half months pregnant with the Bee. I’ve given it up to landisdad during both of my pregnancies–it wasn’t made for a heavily pregnant woman–and at this point, it’s in a semi-retired state. It doesn’t get to go on road trips any more–we mostly take landisdad’s car if we have to go anywhere far, to save wear and tear on the older car.
For my next car, I’m likely to buy a Prius, or some other kind of hybrid. I want a car that’s more environmentally responsible–I’m required to drive long distances for my job, and I don’t like the feeling that I’m destroying the atmosphere while I’m doing it. I wish that Detroit were building them, but I haven’t seen a sedan being produced by an American automaker, and frankly, I don’t have a driveway big enough for an SUV (nor do I particularly want one). I’ve wanted a massive white pickup truck for about fifteen years, since I had a coworker with one who was the epitome of cool, but that’s not a very practical choice for a mother of two.
I’m curious, what kinds of car memories do you have? Did you grow up in a family with quirky cars, or did everyone drive a hoopty? Or were you carless? Did you vacation by car, or road trip a lot as a young adult?