Monday, October 04, 2010

A "new" car -- the column

‘What kind of car do you want to get?’ my husband asked me.
I had no idea. Before our minivan met its untimely demise in early September, I hardly noticed other kinds of cars on the road. Who cared? A car was a car was a car … that is, until I didn’t have a car anymore.
Little cars, big cars, SUVs, Smart cars, hybrid cars, fancy cars, and really plain cars. Not only was I car-less, I was clueless about what to replace our car with.
Something shocking occurred to me as I started mentally car shopping. My husband already has a bigger car good for family vacations, and hauling Christmas trees and girl scouts, and our days of car seats and strollers are gone. I might not actually need another minivan.
Hold on a minute. No more minivan? A minivan is pretty much mom’s right hand. A minivan is the Swiss Army knife of cars. Cupholders, folding seats, seatbelts and storage galore -- minivan means mom. Mom means minivan. What’s a mom without her minivan?
Snap out of it, I told myself. You have to get a new car. Use your imagination!
I went the fantasy route first. If I didn’t need a minivan, how about a Mini Cooper? I could see myself zipping around town in a royal blue Mini with a British flag painted on the roof. Or how about a snappy BMW SUV? An eco-friendly Prius?
The girls started weighing in. A yellow VW slug bug, one said. With a sunroof! And the vase for a flower!
I’d hardly thought about car colors in years but now I couldn’t stop thinking about colors like bright red, sparkly green, mint blue, and icy white. And how about the insides -- leather, heated seats, computerized navigation with instructions from an English accented assistant, and a back-up camera!
Reality set in, meaning the car payment. Heading to Auto Row one Saturday afternoon we narrowed our list down to one or two smaller sized SUVs and four-door economy models.
I had no idea how high-tech cars had become since we bought the minivan in 2001. These days, cars are filled with computers that answer your phone for you, tell you who is and isn’t wearing a seatbelt and can probably order a pizza at the same time. It’s like driving a very expensive computer on four wheels.
As we arrived at the third dealership that the day. That’s when I saw her — a smaller wagon with a hatchback. Oooh, she was beautiful. Sparkly white with a tan interior. Low mileage. One previous owner. Within our price range. It was love at first turn of the key.
We drove her home that afternoon.
I forgot how much fun a new car is. It’s like having a new boyfriend or girlfriend. You want to spend all your time with her. You want to take her with you wherever you go. You look back at her when you walk away. You want to show her off to your friends. You take her to church on Sunday. You hope your parents approve of her.
The rest of the family is equally smitten.
‘Can you come pick me up?’ texted my daughter at high school. ‘And bring the new car?’
Our other daughter requested we drive through the school pick-up line instead of parking as usual.
I want my friends to see the new car, she said.
My husband asked to take her with him on a three-day business trip. I think it’s serious.
I still get a little sad when I see someone driving the same car as our old minivan, but I guess I’ll get over it eventually. You can take the minivan from the mom but you can’t take the mom from the minivan.

Surrendering to Motherhood appears every other Monday in the Napa Valley Register.

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