I had to let go. Give in. Step back and admit that it wasn’t working anymore, that we couldn’t do this. It was too much for us.
And I hated that I cried about it. It’s just a damn car.
I’m not materialistic at all. I don’t seek out names, brands or designers for my clothing. I can’t afford that. I like comfort. Classic styles. I don’t dress like a girl, although I’m trying. I can’t wear heels. I like comfort. But I also like to look good.
And I’ve had my share of all aspects of living that have been shabby because they had to be; because I couldn’t afford anything nice. As a kid, we were so poor. My Mom shopped at Ragstock when all the clothing was dumped in giant buckets that you sifted through. Before it was funky and retro and a place to go to actually buy something ugly to wear. This was decades before thrift was cool. Thrift is the way to go now. Reduce and re-use. Someone’s trash is your treasure. I shop thrift stores constantly and I love what I find. I like to be comfortable. I don’t love my clothing like some women. To me, it’s just something nice to wear.
I make sure I look good, but I don’t obsess over it.
That car, though….. I admit I was obsessed about that car. I loved that it was the third Audi I’ve had in my lifetime. I loved that it was a car I’d dreamed about owning from those years of my life when all I could afford was a rattling, rusty old junker. I loved that it represented an accomplishment, a growing up of sorts, a maturity. It was a high-end automobile. Those four circles thrilled me. The heated seats were a luxury in our cold Minnesota winters. The back-up sensors on the bumper meant I’d never hit anything. The seats adjusted so perfectly that I felt more in control driving that car than anything I’ve ever driven in my life. The stereo was incredible.
It had it all.
On some level too, it recalled the ex-boyfriend who laughed in my face when I told him that my dream car was an Audi, who told his dad, who also laughed at me and said the most ridiculously patronizing, most patriarchal and condescending thing I’ve ever heard in my life. To click open the switchblade key, to turn the ignition and hear it purr, to touch the accelerator and move faster, racing along like a homesick angel, it laughed in defiance of those men who laughed their ignorance at me. ‘I’ll show you.’ I thought then.
Every time I turned the key, I thought of those voices and laughter and humiliation.
But that’s not why I cried.
It became too much. Too much money. Too much for the premium gas. Too much for the tires, for the needs it had. For the maintenance to keep her purring smoothly over the miles. I felt hollow watching the gas pump rise. I cringed at every noise that might suggest failure. And when the shuddering began, when the thick white smoke started to cough from the exhaust pipe and the ‘Check Engine’ light flashed, my belly turned upside down. Part of me felt like we’d failed. That we’d lost the ability to maintain. That we were giving it up because the means to care for it just wasn’t happening. We weren’t getting anywhere with our lives. We should be at a better place than this. I felt like we failed us. It didn’t matter that it was 10 years old. Those 150,000 miles weren’t enough of a clue.
The failing engine was a metaphor that said “You aren’t functioning properly. You can’t keep going.”
That by saying goodbye to it, giving it up meant that we had to return to rusty old clunkers that said
“You’ve failed. You had it in the palm of your hand and you’ve failed.”
I’m not materialistic. At all. I felt silly, sobbing with my head on the table when we talked about replacing it. I refused to look at the cars that my husband found. I didn’t want to scale back. To step down. I knew I had to. But I didn’t like it. We found a good deal. The car was well-maintained and meticulously taken care of, a good car with low miles and it’s ok to drive. There are no heated seats, but I have a sheepskin seat cover that helps. The stereo is ok. There is no sensor on the back bumper and I have to be more careful.
The gas pump won’t spin so high anymore. We are saving more money with it.
We didn’t fail. Neither of us. We tried. But this wasn’t the priority, this Audi, and it was acting like it had to be. It needed more TLC than we could offer. It was time to move on. We likely won’t have another one. I’ve already had three and shouldn’t be disappointed. I honestly thought we’d be further along at this point in our lives, that we’d have a higher level of comfort, that we wouldn’t need to continually scale back, cut down, reduce, omit, pare back, budget and do without.
But we didn’t fail.
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