Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Out with the Old and In with the … Slightly Used

My dad’s mother always used to say “honey, I am not taking all this with me. There is only so much you can fit in between 4 wooden boards!”. Ever since I can remember, her words have haunted me! You work, you buy, you buy some more, you accumulate, and then … it’s all left behind. Like a used sheet of paper in an old notebook, tear it out of the binding and leave it in a trash bin, only for the wind to come and pick it up … Wasted. Your life.

This ephemeral nature of things never prevents me from being attached to some of the possessions I have. My friends surely remember the psychosis I went through when I got rid of my “blue couch” and replaced it with a brand new one, in my then new condo. Yeah, I am a softy when it comes to saying “good bye” to things.

You might remember my teary departure from my Echo. I then replaced it a used Prius. And it’s time now, to say good bye to the Prius – only after 2 years. Although I had signed my soul out to Toyota, the Prius pretty much made me fall out of love with the make. Unlike other people, I am not really picking cars based on power, mileage, finishes, interior perks. I am mostly picking a car like I pick a house: does it feel like “home” in there? Do I feel like the chairs embrace me when I sit down and can I sit on them, safely, for many hours on end? America is a huge country, so road trips are commonplace. I need to feel like I “belong” there more than anything.

The Prius was never “my home”. It was fast. It was reliable (when I could quiet down the nerves about the key battery going dead on me!). It was “too fancy”, with all the digital screens, beeps and flashy lights on it. But it was never “home”.

I still remember way before I ever considered a Prius, watching an interview with Meryl Streep and they were asking her if she really has no appointed chauffeur. She said with a shrug: “Oh, no! I just love driving my Prius!” (can you picture her batting her eyelashes on that comment?!). I loved driving the Prius, too, but I got the discern feeling that the Prius didn’t love me back. The leather chairs were every bit as uncomfortable as I initially thought they would be, and it smelled. It constantly smelled like gas in there, although there was nothing “mechanically” wrong with it.

Faults and all, we did make a couple of memories in it. We took it to Valley of the Gods and Bluff, which were eye opening experiences, for me, and we did tour Utah, Arizona and Nevada in it when my mom visited us, two years ago. My first road trip in it was to Vegas, to meet my girlfriends who have flown from NC to see me, after some years. I will always hold that trip dear, and the Prius took me to and brought me safely back from Vegas, despite my nerves about being alone in the desert with a car I didn’t yet know.

But more than anything, it will forever be my nervous wreck car! Even in worry, I still got attached, as I constantly thought about it, and what beep will it invent next?! And I still leave it with a bitter-sweet taste, as I still want to love Toyotas.

Several events in the family and several (motor) decisions later, although I owed more money on it than it was worth, we decided to give the Prius back to “the dealer”. It has now been replaced by my husband’s ex-car, a Honda Fit. That’s right – not a Toyota, this time. It’s not a car I chose, but it’ll do the job. It’ll stay with me as long as it will work. It’s comfortable, small (which is my requirement, of course), low maintenance and no frills, except for the power windows.

We started building memories in it since 2010 when I moved to Utah, so it’s more than just a “new car to me”, at this point. It was our honeymoon road trip car, when we drove to Napa Valley. We’ve been building onto that and we will continue to do so, I am sure. Several weeks ago, I had my first “accident” in it, when I hit a mattress laying on the highway which got me stuck on the HOV lane. Oh, the drama. Yesterday, a bookcase (yeah, you read it right) flew out of the bed of a pickup truck into the highway again, and again, almost hit me, and sent me speeding over to the HOV lane to escape the hit. The Fit handled the sudden veer to the left quite well, at 80 mph. But I hope I’ll have some happy trips in it, too. And as usual, I will get attached. 

My not so new car: around Lake Tahoe, CA - September 2010 

Cars are so much part of our daily routine now. And as I said, America is the ultimate road trip country. A car is your vessel to explore and grow and grow old in and with. I will form a connection with the Honda, too, as one naturally does. And, to some extent, I will think seldom of the Prius, as well, and of what Toyota could still offer me.

When it comes to my car, I am still yet looking for a home.  

One of the Prius's first road trips: on a peak in Valley of the Gods - Bluff, UT - early spring 2013.

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