Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Favorite Things: My Car

I'm not a major car person. There are some I like more than others and a few that will never make my short list even if they were only $1. I do love this car though. It's a Honda Pilot and although it is not necessarily a head turner, I love how much easier it makes my life and I love what it represents to me.

I bought it a year ago when it became clear that I might be pushing my luck regarding the mileage and well being of my Explorer. Being neither technically single nor married, or having done any official work (i.e. anything that wasn't in the background in support of J's companies) I was starting to get worried about how I was going to be able to qualify to trade in for a more reliable one. In becoming a single adult/single car family I wanted a little more vehicular security. What do you do when your car is in the shop and you don't have a second car to rely on? How would I ever get to the store to spend the grocery money I didn't have anymore because the car needed a new thingamajig? :-) Because most banks don't count alimony or child support as income I was told by a few dealerships that I would have to ask someone with a job to co-sign for me. I hated that. Not because I don't have awesome family members who would help me (I do) but it just increased my sense of helplessness about my life and feelings of dependence. This alone may not seem like a huge thing, but pride rarely goes all at once. It slips away in pieces and leaves jagged wounds whenever you realize that something that you are now unqualified for something as a single person simply because you spent years in tandem with another person who is no longer there. Trying to find a place that would rent to a single mom with three kids is a very similar story.

Ultimately, I figured I would cross my fingers for awhile and hope that all the Explorer's thingamajigs had some good life left in them. Then I got a marketing letter from a local dealership that promised that all forms of income would be considered. I contacted them with a fairly cynical heart and I got really lucky. The dealership salesmen were awesome (Menlove Toyota if you are interested). It seemed like everyone I worked with had some kind of personal sympathy for the divorce situation I was currently in and made it their extra mission to make sure I got financed and into something that would be good to me for the long run. I know how to car shop and I know what I am looking for on a car contract. In my double checking, researching and price matching, I was relieved to see that the price we haggled down to with very little trouble was incredibly fair. I was so grateful to not have salesmen who were going to mess with me because I was so very tired of being messed with. Driving off that lot with a car that had a good reputation for safety and for durability felt good. But more than that, I felt the first triumph I had had 9 months. Being able to secure a car that was in my name and through my credit gave me back a little of my independence. It was the first thing that was 'mine' and not 'ours' and it was on my terms. I can't even begin to tell you how big that was for me.

I love my car for that and I also love it because I really, really hate to drive. Back during the first year of marriage, I commuted an hour to school and work and the time in the car made me nuts because I wasn't working, wasn't doing homework and wasn't spending with my new husband. I still feel like driving time is wasted time and I get bored and frustrated quickly. However, this car has so many fun extras that I never would have paid to put in but am loving. For instance, the day the DVD system breaks down will be the day I check into the looney bin. There are so many reasons to love that particular feature, especially when you are the only adult in a car of children who have inherited their mother's penchant for hating car time. Or, when you are on hour ten of a road trip and you are glad you have some way to entertain the kids. Since I can count on one hand the number of times that I have been a passenger in a car in the last 6 months, I can now really appreciate the comforts that make being a driver so much better. Who knew heated seats could make me so happy?

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