We'll go flying down the highway with my arms around you singing 'Born To Run'*
Until a few days ago, I never had a car that I loved.
I had a car that I liked, quite a bit, from 1996 to 2002. It was a green Saturn SL2, and we bought it when Husband and I returned from living in Japan. It was cute and it ran well.
Unfortunately it also had a serious radiator problem. We replaced the radiator in that car three times in six years. I don't think that's normal.
Prior to that, I had a car that I a very adversarial relationship with. It was a red 1989 Ford Escort, and it had a manual transmission. At the the time it was purchased, I did not know HOW to drive a stick.
I suppose, all things considered, if I hadn't come to own a car that required me to learn how to drive a stick, I probably never would have learned. And I do maintain, to this day, that the ability to at least operate a manual transmission car is an essential skill.
(I mean, what if you ever get caught in some South American country in the middle of some guerrilla warfare and the only way out is to jump into a car with a manual transmission? Where will you be, then, huh, if you cannot drive a stick? Even farther up a creek without a paddle, that's where.)
Umm...anyway, that car was a 1989 Ford Escort with a pony engine and a manual transmission. (Husband taught me how to drive it when he was still "Boyfriend".) My father and I drove it from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Tuscon, Arizona in the late summer of 1994, when I moved to Arizona to start graduate school.
Husband and I also drove it across the desert, from Tucson to Los Angeles, in order to interview for the jobs we eventually took in Japan. (Do you know, with the glaring exception of Phoenix, there really is VERY LITTLE between Tucson and Los Angeles. It's like, eight hours of hot sand and desert vistas. Kind of pretty, but sort of terrifying to be driving through in a questionable car.)
Also, that car had a black interior. I think that Laura, Elizabeth, Bunny'sMom and anyone else who has ever lived in Arizona will agree with me on this point - owning a car with a black interior while living in the desert? Kind of sucks.
I really cannot fault the car for being what it was. The car did take me from one end of the country (and back again) and the only time it ever broke down on me was when I left the lights on for eight hours when I was on campus at the U of AZ.
(It was 110 degrees that day, it was after 8 PM, and when I returned to my car, it would not start. I had only been in Tucson for ten days, I didn't know ANYONE, I didn't have AAA, I didn't have a cell phone, and I would have been totally screwed if two really nice people, who were walking their dog on campus that evening, hadn't taken me to an AutoZone, assisted me in choosing the right kind of battery for my car, driven me back to campus, and then INSTALLED the battery for me. Where ever you are today, really nice couple in Tucson, Arizona in August of 1994, I appreciate your kindness to this day. I do. And I sincerely appreciate that you were not serial killers. And that advice you gave me about calling AAA and getting a membership the very next day? Yeah, I totally took that to heart. For real. I have the AAA card in my wallet RIGHT NOW, and I have ever since then.)
Where was I???
Oh yes, I never really loved a car.
My most recent car was a small Pontiac, and it was a decent car. I was strong-armed by the salesman into buying a black car, because it was the only car in stock that I could get the x, y or z discounts on. Something like that. I had to 'take delivery from dealer stock', I believe was the phrase. But it was black, and I wanted a red one. Or a green one. But I got a black one because that was my only option.
That car did not have traction control or anti-lock brakes, and it scared the crap out of me several times this last winter. I had had the car since the fall of 2002, and it had definitely seen better days.
Did I mention that I did not love it? And that it scared me very much this past winter what with the sliding around the road and all?
We had come to a point where we were going to either have to put a couple thousand dollars into that car, or get a new car.
And then, I saw it.
The car. MY car. A car that yelled out to me, "YOU MUST OWN ME! I MUST BE YOURS! WE WERE MEANT TO BE TOGETHER!!!!!!"
I felt very foolish, feeling so strongly about a car. And I felt guilty. Because it was not an American car and I felt obligated to buy an American car.
Dutifully, Husband and I test drove several other cars.
But none of them spoke to me. None of them called out to me and begged me to take them home with me. None of them had as many airbags, traction control, a navigation system, or Bluetooth. None of them scored as high on safety tests, nor were they rated among the ten most economical cars to own. Not like the car I wanted. Not like the car that was screaming out to me to come take it home.
And so, giving in to my selfish heart, a week ago Saturday...I got this:
I don't know if you can tell from the photos, but she is SCREAMING, FIRE ENGINE RED.
And she is mine.
And I love her.
*Pat Green, Feels Just Like It Should