IN MY MIND
As a non married woman by choice, buying or leasing a brand new high end and high performance car without a man by my side, also by choice, is a psychological mind twist. I have only owned two other high end cars. My first one was a Cooper Mini Convertible, purchased when they were barely out of the showroom. As most of my car purchases have been in my young life, it was impulsive. They usually are. But this Cooper was the car that defined a unique time in my life. My business and life felt successful, I had just turned forty and I had learned independence, oddly, through the security of my marriage. This convertible was filled with all of the bells and whistles that a sports car could have, chrome everything, six speed manual and I felt like I was in a James Bond movie every time I placed my hand on the almost sexual, smooth and velvety round knob that was the shifter. That car was amazing, completely impractical unless it was a perfect summer day in July. Winters, forget it, terrible. I didn’t have a garage and snow an ice were not good companions for this car. It would have been a great second car, but even I knew this was not practical, the narrative in my head said so. I cried the day I traded it in. My son, who I think was about eight at the time, looked at me with his big brown wisdom filled eyes and said, Mom, it’s only a car. Touché. Out of the mouths of babes, surely.
Five years later, when Dave and I were going through our divorce, I got into a slight accident, distracted, not paying attention and actually side swiped a parked car. If that wasn’t the universe telling me to slow the hell down, I don’t know what else could. It was a week before my son’s Bar Mitzvah and my car would be in the shop for at least three weeks. This seemed like a perfect time to buy a new car, actually a used car, the first used car I ever bought as an adult. This car was big, bold and totally not me at all, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, I mean seriously we are talking cars here. It was one of steroid type Lexus SUVS and it drove like an airplane taking off on a trip to Europe. Smooth, sleek and really big. The sound system alone made the car worth the purchase and this was by far the stupidest purchase I had ever made. I thought my soon to be ex husband was going to have a stroke when he saw me driving this thing. It cost well over sixty dollars to fill the tank, only got about sixteen miles to the gallon and I think it was around the time that gas prices were headed to over four dollars. There was talk about the apocalypse coming and with a car that only got sixteen miles to the gallon, impractical was an understatement. When I picked my grandparents up at the airport in this thing, I am sure they thought their oldest granddaughter had lost her mind. After all our family drove Prius’ and practical, understated cars. We didn’t drive Lexus’. At least the Cooper wasn’t as in your face as the Lexus so I got by with that because it was also compact, small, non gas guzzling, responsible.
That Lexus lasted about six months, I never should have bought it and it cost me dearly to get out of it. Being the queen of rationalization, though I traded it in for a very family approved pragmatic Prius. That car fit my family’s personal narrative surely. Plus it got like five hundred miles to a tank of gas and the amount of money I saved on gas alone each month more than compensated me for the loss. This car though fabulous on gas had terrible pick up and no power, but it took me through my son’s high school years. When my friend came home with a VW golf, I decided to trade in the Prius and get one. This car, still small, had pick up, was good on gas and was a sporty little reasonable automobile. Meanwhile my son was driving one of my favorite cars ever, bought in 2002, one of the first Toyota Highlanders. I had traded in my Camry what seemed like a lifetime ago back then and bought this car on a five year loan. I remember leaving the auto dealer that evening. I had installed the car seat in the back and strapped Michael in and he and I looked at each other. I briefly thought, wow so much can happen in five years. My brother had been gone for seven years and I was definitely a deeper thinker since his loss. Car payments for five years had a definite calendar awareness of life coming at you.
Last week, though, the Highlander finally gave out. Of course my son is living off campus this year so he needs a car. Putting the Highlander out of commission is sad actually. This car has been our family vehicle when we were a family, it was a beat around car for Dave when we got divorced so he could grieve in the way he knew, gardening and lawn and tinkering outside. The car came back to me when our son needed a car for high school and then became the car to pack up when Michael headed to college. We thought the Highlander would get us all through the entire college years, but this week we learned this would not be so. My son needed a car and though I am completely aware he could well buy his own car and this could give him one of those textbook life lessons, I didn’t want to. I wanted to give him my Volkswagon as a gift.
My son has already had some good life lessons in his young life, parents going through a divorce, witnessing the death of our Aunt by taking her off of life support, his mother having breast cancer twice, and watching his grandmother stop speaking to his mother to name a few. No- these are not life and death life experiences, but as I recall my own twenties, this is my way of making up for it giving him an easier way to enter his twenty first year. In leasing a new car this past week I have been listening to the non stop chatter in my head that seems to consistently scream words like irresponsible, careless, will you ever learn, silly and the volume of other negativity to somehow be a voice of reason. I don’t know whose voice this is, but the difference this time around is that I have witnessed it from a different perspective. I am my own power. No one has any over me, I am not going to “get in trouble” for buying a car or buying anything for that matter and this chatterbox is from a long ago past. It is a judgmental sour sound that creates feelings of lack and guilt and serves no purpose. I release the voice. I have my own voice now and the way I use it is important. Many women I speak with have these feelings about items they have purchased, from the smallest trinket to buying furniture for their homes, there is some sound in our heads that go off like a fire alarm. We are brought up surrounded by messages to shop and buy and fill and then we feel guilty when we spend. It is a weird conundrum, perhaps it is self protection, but ultimately it is harmful, at least to me.
When I stand at the shoreline, I am struck by how vast the sea is, I often see myself with a bucket trying to collect the water or the sand and no matter how much I scoop, the ocean and the beach still look exactly the same. There is plenty. There is enough. Life is abundant. These are the messages I replace the ornery cranky ones with. My partner has a sign that says, “Don’t believe everything you think.” When those negative lack themed thoughts arise, I replace them with I am enough, I am always divinely protected and cared for and life is abundant. I am aware that abundance takes action too, you can’t just wish for it, but what I do know is when I replace negative thinking with a positive one, I feel better, more open, more calm. And amazing life gifts come my way. These are the little life nuggets that help quell that chatterhead. Time is short, buy the car, own your life and live on the edge occasionally, it wakes up the soul with a brightness that even the sun can’t compete with.