Now that two of my children have acquired driver’s licenses, I find myself scrambling for a car on many occasions. Yes, the cars belong to my husband and I, but I’ve fully embraced my retirement from taxi service and I handover the keys willingly.
Still, last summer’s daily negotiation over who would get the cars and who would beg for rides, firmed my resolve to buy a car this year. My car.
The last car I owned was a racy, little Geo Storm in electric blue. It handled like a sports car and had an awesome stereo and whenever I drove it, I felt cool. That was twenty years ago. Before kids.
Ever since I set off on my quest to become a published novelist, I’ve had the goal of making enough money to 1) buy my own car and 2) hire a cleaning person. I’m well aware that very few people make big money at writing these days, but I didn’t feel my dreams were unreasonable.
And so I have saved my pennies – from teaching creative writing and healthy cooking, honorariums I’ve received for speaking gigs, payment for articles, and of course, my royalties for my books.
Finally, I felt I had a sum that could afford me a vehicle. Not a new one, but a nice one. So I began my search.
I didn’t want a practical car that got good gas mileage and had plenty of room for a Costco run. And I was not looking for a four-wheel drive vehicle that could handle our hilly driveway, as more and more I don’t mind being snowed in. I knew I would buy a manual transmission; I grew up driving stick and when I got my first automatic car, it felt less like driving and more like simply steering. The added bonus of having a manual transmission would be that none of my kids know how to drive stick so no one would be asking to borrow my car! Bottom line: I wanted a car that was cool, or at least made me feel cool.
The more I thought about what I wanted, the more my heart became set on a convertible.
Why not? I’m fifty years old. If not now, when?
I’m finally beyond worrying about what other people will think. I’m old enough to stop making excuses, and it’s become less and less necessary to explain myself. I’m not having a mid-life crisis, I’m having a mid-life claiming. I’m claiming this time—I’m going after what I want. Life is too damn short.
So I combed the internet. I set up a very specific search and the moment my car appeared, I knew. It was a merlot colored BMW Z4 convertible. Powerful. Perfect. Exactly the car of my dreams.
My husband made me go drive another more practical convertible (a cute little navy blue Miata which “has great ‘resale value,’ gets better gas mileage, and is less expensive to have serviced”). He thought I shouldn’t just buy the first car I saw. I should have some basis for comparison. But really, I knew which car I was buying, even as I nodded and agreed to the handful on our list as we set out on a beautiful, sunny, convertible-driving kind of day.
We called ahead to be sure my car hadn’t been purchased right out from under me while I was busy driving the more practical cars. But it was there, waiting.
Although it is thirteen years old, it only has 11,000 miles on it. It is in perfect condition, having never spent a night outside in its life. Leather interior, a kick-ass stereo, and most importantly – manual transmission. Perfect. Mine. I took it for a spin, a grin splitting my face, while Nick fiddled with the stereo and laughed at my excitement.
When we got back to the dealership, we sat down with the salesman (and his treeing walker coonhound – talk about a sign!). We agreed on a price, and I wrote the check that would zero out my checking account before I happily zipped home with the top down.
It’s not practical, my car; it’s presumptuous and auspicious and it makes a bold statement. It is the coolest car I’ve ever driven. And the most powerful. This baby can go. I’ve never driven anything that handled and shifted and purred like this car. I am completely, utterly in love with my car.
When I took my youngest son for a ride, he said he could never drive a car like mine. I asked him why. He said it’s too fancy, too rich.
“Maybe,” I told him, “But someday I hope you think you deserve a car like this.”
It took me fifty years, but I do think I deserve this. Think whatever you like. I earned it.
And here’s my words of wisdom to the rest of you –
You deserve the desires of your heart, but the ones that come too easy are nowhere near as satisfying as the ones you work for.
Go for it, friends. Life is too short.