Remember how, last winter, it snowed like it has never snowed before? And my car brought me to safety? And I loved it via some blog-time?
Well, I’ve purchased a new car. I purchased it because while Basil here was strong and sturdy all winter long, the winter was hard on the vehicle, and I started to feel like I needed something newer for the upcoming winter (shudder!!!) in Detroit.
It’s kind of my place. And it’s known for cars, isn’t it? I like to joke that everyone works for the car companies–either directly (like my father/ two of my brothers) or indirectly (like me).
I don’t really fit into car culture, though. When people are like, “And the engine is this kind and I added this one thing so that the car would function more like…” I’m usually lost. I’m an artist in an engineer’s world. But, my world has shaped me. Instead of writing emails where the thoughts all run and dance together–which is how I think–I structure them with numbers so that engineers can understand. When I explain things to my older brother, I talk about cost-benefit analysis, even though I’m really talking about feelings, I’ve just interpreted my words for my audience.
I need to post a “for sale” ad for my old car, the old Buick, the one I called “Basil.” I need the description to say things like, “clean title” and “V6, 3.8 engine,” which are true things. But, those aren’t the kinds of things I could say.
So, I’ll say the things I want here, instead.
In 2007 the movie “Enchanted” came out and I went to see it with some friends over Christmas break in the morning. Our morning spilled into a lunch (with waffles), spilled into afternoon singing songs around the piano, spilled into darkness-almost-falling (winter, remember, winter in the great north). And, in that time, my father got a deal at a used car lot to replace my old car. The old car was out of commission due to brake failure. Yikes. I wrote my father a check, and the “new” car was mine.
I liked it from the moment I saw it–champagne-colored and old-lady styled. I placed my college-parking decal in the rear windshield corner, and we were ready for business.
I loved its smooth ride, down the highways, at all hours of the night and day, to and from college.
I loved its roomy couch-like backseat, for all the times I’d snatch quick naps between classes (only naps!).
I loved the almost-overkill sun visors, daring the sun to try to reach my eyes!
And reliable, too! For any adventures! So, I took it. I went to Chicago with friends, all gathered in the roomy couch-backseat. I drove it to Toronto and Niagara Falls, our bikes fastened to the back. Camping, with our luggage in tow, Stratford-bound with endless snacks in the backseat, up and around Detroit and the neighboring cities.
One Lent I took the face plate of the radio off so I wouldn’t listen to the radio for my Lenten resolution. Well, I placed the face plate in such a good location…I never found it again. 🙂
Last winter I drove my siblings through a wicked snowstorm, and we never worried…because the car handles snow, man.
Also last winter, I made a wrong turn somewhere in Detroit, onto a street never-plowed. I analyzed and said to myself, as the dusk was settling all around me, just off of 6 mile, “Get out now or maybe never” so I gunned that car through blocks of waist-deep snow…and it made it. We made it. That car was like my womb, man, my sanctuary of warmth.
I joked that the reason I was never pulled over is because cops don’t ever suspect old-lady cars. I smiled every time the cruise control light lit up, neon green on my dashboard. I placed a towel on the seat when the padding started to fail me a little. I nodded every time the auto mechanics said to me, “You tell me first before you sell this car, you hear?” I wrote checks to the auto-guy on the corner every time we needed something new because: I took care of it and it took care of me.
It was the first adult-thing that I owned. Yes, I think my father or mother co-owned it, perhaps, for a cheaper insurance policy than a college-kid could muster but, still. I paid the bills, and it was mine.
Funny how inanimate objects can become important, isn’t it? And yet, they do.
My father had been hinting for a while that I should upgrade, my brothers, too, them being engineers and all.
So, I looked. I went to the dealership, driving cars both new and old. Only, nothing could compare to how I felt about the old Buick. I was priced for a few at the dealership, but wasn’t excited about any of them. I drove some from Craigslist, called a lady whose “for sale” poster hung in my mother’s Jazzercise class. I created a spreadsheet in Excel, comparing prices and mileage and make/ model of the car. But I included a column called “feelings,” too, so as not to betray the artist within.
Then my dad found a used Buick on the website of the dealer.
So I went to them and said, “That one. I want to try it.”
But, it wasn’t on the lot so they said, “I think you’ll like this other one better” but I said, “Well, I won’t know until I try it. And I want to try it. I can wait.”
So they sent a sales associate to a town a few hours out, and the car came back to the dealership and I visited for a test drive.
I got in, and I squealed. Because, it was just right. It felt like I was in the hug of someone I loved, ya’ll, someone with bicep-rich arms and a scene in black and white photography. That is, honestly, the closest feeling I can describe.
But, something was wrong with one of the tires, so I called my dad who didn’t answer, so I called my other engineer-brother and he was like, “Oh, hi, I’m driving with dad,” so I was like, “Well I need to talk to him.”
And, like an engineer, I explained that I liked the car, but something seemed wrong with one of the tires. My dad was like, “Why don’t you drive it on different surfaces and tell the dealership?”
So, I did.
And they were like, “Hmmm.”
And I was like, “Please, have your mechanic check it out.”
And they were like, “He already has.”
So I said, “Well, look again!”
(But, I felt odd saying that).
Then I left and they called back, said things were better, and I tested it again and I walked in to the sales floor and I said, “Don’t let anyone else see that car–it’s mine.”
Then I jumped through a million stupid, circular hoops for the insurance agent and the bank and the dealership.
And a little bit of the bank’s, too, I guess, but not for long at all.
Then it will be all mine.
And I will have some new adventures.
So. I have a new car. And I’m thankful for the years with my trusty Basil, but excited for the years with a new Buick.
Last week I met some new friends, including a handsome young man with dashing hair…and a slick, black sports car.
The event had about ten to twenty cars parked in a row, including his and mine.
“That’s a nice car,” I said, of his fancy ride.
“But,” I teased, “it’s not as nice as mine.”
“Wait!” he said, abruptly, seriously, “are you the one in the Buick?”
“Yep,” I responded, “that’s my car.”
That’s my car.