The first car that I could call my very own was a 1969 Volkswagen Beetle. It was black with a dark red interior. My father painted red and white pinstripes down the side of it and lovingly took care of it, because it needed a lot of care. He was always having to do something to the car and I would often go out to go somewhere, only to find a pair of legs sticking out from under the rear bumper as he tinkered with the engine. It wasn’t so much that he really enjoyed working on cars, though looking back on it, perhaps it was more a “project” than it needed to be. It was just an old car that needed a lot of coddling to keep running for me to get to school and work, eventually carting me back and forth from college. When I went off to graduate school, out of state, I bought a bike. The car stayed home.
When I got my first job, I loaded my meager belongings into a tiny U-Haul and drove from Colorado to Oregon. I spent the first day unloading and the second day driving to car dealers. I think they salivated and knew they had a sure sale when I drove up in a rental truck. I drove my brand new car out to the mountains and posed it on the side of the road so I could take pictures to send to my dad.
Vehicles since then have been chosen more from function than desire. I moved from a minivan that could easily hold carseats into to a conversion van that we could haul bigger kids and bigger stuff in, including being able to drive to field trips and transport band instruments. Not very hip or cool; just mom cars. That phase seemed to last forever, until a couple of years ago when I noticed I was only moving my kids, not mountains of stuff.
I felt uneasy thinking about what I actually wanted, instead of what I needed. The choices were varied and open, with only a few constraints. I had to be able to seat all three girls as well as myself, and the trunk had to be big enough to hold my daughter’s instruments for the drive to school. As usual, when I am offered two or three choices, it’s a breeze to pick. When offered twenty it’s not so easy, so I did my homework, and thought about what I wanted, and drove several makes and cars. After all, this was going to be the car I spent my post-kid years in.
Now I’m zipping around in a bright red Volkswagen Beetle. What goes around, comes around.