Yesterday I said goodbye to something that’s been a constant in my life for ten years.
I’m not one to run through cars all willy nilly, trading them in on a whim when a newer model’s chrome blinds me as they saunter on by. I may have commitment issues when it comes to every other nook and cranny of my life, but when it comes to my cars, I’m in it for the long haul.
In high school I drove an old VW Dasher my parents bought for me. I don’t remember how it died, but I do remember floating a keg in the back on graduation night. After that, I drove an old Corolla they bought me. When my Mom was ready to trade up, I then “bought” her old Nissan 200SX. That Nissan 200SX was the car that cemented my friendship with this girl I call Pilar back in 1993. Our friendship was founded on the fact that we drove the exact same car and loved to drink beer and throw darts and go nightswimming. I drove that car for years after the air conditioner stopped working. I would just drive everywhere in shorts and a tank top and then change my clothes in the car when I got there. You can take the girl out of the country but…
One year I went to visit my parents for their birthday (yes, my mom and dad were born on the same exact day, as was Mom’s twin sister). My stepdad and I went to pick up the BBQ ribs for the party. We drove by a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder. Oh, she was sweet, with all the bells and whistles. The next thing I knew we were headed back to the party in my new Pathfinder.
I loved that car. We put a stupid loud stereo in there and I drove her until her cv joints just couldn’t take anymore.
By then I was married to someone who knew about cars and wheeling and dealing, so when I saw the new Mazdas in 2005 I just said that’s what I wanted, and the next thing I knew we were on the lot and my beloved Pathfinder was gone and I was falling in love with Ginger the Lava Rocket. No muss, no fuss, all I had to do was say “that one”.
Ginger and I had a rocky relationship. I loved her for her flash and her haulass. I loved her for pulling my jet ski and carrying my kayaks and carrying me all over the southeastern United States.
I hated Ginger for her shitty air conditioner but I loved her for her thug badassery when she drove right through tropical storm Debbie because the dolphins had stolen one of my favorite Anne Klein wedges when we’d drunkenly jumped into the Gulf of Mexico at midnight the night before, as the storm moved in. In yet another impulsive mistake, I decided to drive back out to the beach during a tropical storm and try to find my shoe. Act in haste, repent in leisure, that’s my motto. I never did find my shoe but that’s ok, now I have three.
That Anne Klein wedge cost me one air conditioner compressor and one front axle that I apparently broke or ruined driving through huge puddles like this:
I still don’t understand how I could break an axle and yet keep on driving but that’s what they told me so that’s what I paid for.
After years of driving through floods and dipping Ginger’s ass in the Gulf to put my ski in the water, she began to run less like a lava rocket and more like a jalopy. I’d broken and fixed all three motor mounts and then broken another one again and said screw it. I would just slide her into neutral every time I came to a stop and that would stop most of the vibration, which was fine unless your bladder was full.
So I started dreaming about a new car, one with an air conditioner so strong it would put your ass on arctic blast in seconds. I obsessed about cars. I had a few in mind and I stopped strangers and talked to them about their cars. I looked online every day, trolling dealership websites.
Finally, I got the opportunity to pay off debt and buy a car.
Now, this is the part where I should tell you I don’t enjoy stuff like that. I am the exact opposite of a “the art of the deal” kind of girl. I don’t like being told what to do, I don’t like being told how to do it, and I don’t like being strong-armed into something just because I don’t understand what you’re saying. I suffer from what I call Scarlett O’Hara Syndrome- I just figure if something upsets me like that, I’ll just worry about it tomorrow.
But Ginger’s a/c was hit or miss, and I have a job that requires me to be in the heat much of the day. Living in Florida and climbing in attics without having a/c in my car is not an option.
So yesterday I was just putzing around my house, as I’m wont to do, when I was compelled to drop every damn thing I was doing and GO. BUY. A. CAR. NOW.
I’ve been dreaming of a white Hyundai Santa Fe for a year. Yesterday I found one. She’s a few years old but she’s only got 27,000 miles with one original owner, a clean Carfax report and a record of service. Are you kidding me?!
As I sat there and negotiated with the guy, I started to feel myself getting all hyper-ventilaty. Wheeling and Dealing is not my forte.
But I had a number in my head that I was willing to spend, to top out at. Of course everyone wants a deal, but I also don’t expect to get something for nothing. I want a car, they want my money. I stuck to my guns and gave them a reasonable offer and they lowered the price.
I walked out of there with $1500 left of that topped out number I’d had in my head.
I called my mom and told her how nervous I’d been. She told me I should have waited and bought it today, because today is the eighth anniversary of my Stepdad’s death.
I would give anything in this world for my Stepdad to be here.
But I didn’t need his help yesterday. I bought a car all by myself for the first time and I got the exact car I wanted and I have money left over. I bought the first car I even test drove because that’s the car I wanted. I am not a bargain hunter. I am not a comparison shopper. I found exactly what I wanted and so I bought it. She is gorgeous and clean and so fancy compared to Ginger.
And I did it all by myself without one high speed comeapart. It was all very grown up for a 46-year-old woman with commitment issues.
But I’m going to call her Minnie Pearl for short :-)