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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Precious Car Go

I love cars.  Always have.  Apparently one of my first phrases was "putt putt car" to describe a classic MG.  The Mister and I always went to auto shows. My primary objective for my first real job was to buy a car. Success came in the form of a white used Mazda Miata (!) after a long summer answering phones.  I hoped to always own convertibles and a couple I did. One of my favorite memories is being hooted at by my gang of girlfriends as I left our annual weekend away, ragtop down, sunglasses on. (Never one to take a compliment too seriously, I shouted to them to remember that a breast pump was stowed in the tiny trunk!)

Convertibles took a hiatus when I fell in love with my station wagon and then a series of Suburbans.  Four children, two drum kits and several budding sport stars made this the world's perfect car for us.  Rights of passages all of those cars.  I remember looking in my review mirror in the station wagon, seeing a pair of children strapped into carseats and wondering how this all happened to me when I still felt 8 years old.  When the boys were little and the Mister in graduate school, I used to drive them down country roads long after dark in the summer, windows down, all of us yelling the words to Van Morrison's "Into the Mystic."  You can't do that on the 274 to Lancaster Gate.  At least without causing a stir.

I have cried saying goodbye to every car we've owned.  Cars are like houses to me.  They are part of our family, part of the story of our life.  So I am truly surprised that I don't miss a car.  Our life now is traveled on foot or by bus and there are countless lovely things about that.

We hit the ground running here.  Big Brother majored in bus routes and all things Transport for London before he started actual school this fall.  The kids are old pros at hailing buses and cabs, swiping my Oyster card and endearing themselves to bus and cab drivers.  I've adapted, too.  Having really never understood the need for a diaper bag, I found myself purchasing something very similar to one shortly after we arrived.  I am in love with my "purse" as it holds basically what my Suburban did (minus soccer uniforms).  I keep an umbrella, rain hat (we do live in London), bandana, various cosmetic and medical supplies and the essentials for the 6 of us.  It has special clips to attach to our buggy and a long strap for when I want to wear it like a messenger bag.  I take pride in helping strangers with the goodies stowed inside.  And my ever present scarf doubles as child wrap, picnic blanket, and towel.  So, car? Who needs it?  I'm modern urban mom.  My errands are steps away.

But sometimes I do miss driving.  I long for impulse antiquing, knowing treasures could be tossed in "the way back."  It can be lots of work running an evening errand with the kids on foot.  Lots of effort to get everyone to walk.  And follow me.  And cross safely.

Sometimes we walk out the front door of our building and the children seem to walk in 4 different directions.  The Mister says he misses strapping little people in and going.  There was less negotiating required.  I miss reading the Sunday paper, hoarded catalogs, and everything else while being driven on weekend errands.  I miss driving with NPR on.  I miss this American Life and Morning Edition stories so good that I idle in the driveway waiting for their conclusions.  The kids miss our old 1920s detached garage which was more clubhouse, toy storage, and impromptu theater than a garage.

We've rented cars on trips which has been great fun. And funny.  Especially on our trip to France. Unless you are the very grumpy gendarme who wordlessly reached through the driver window to get our rental car into reverse when were stuck making a u-turn. The kids were breathlessly asking if the Mister was about to be arrested as he approached, his puffy pants tucked into tall boots.

I have no doubt that we will drive and own cars again. But because that likely means we'd be saying goodbye to our London life, I don't want to hurry it along. Cars will be there when we're ready. Meanwhile, I'm hoping somewhere engineers are busy perfecting the hybrid Chevrolet Suburban.  I'm hoping they'll consider a convertible model.

1 comment:

  1. I too, fell in love with my first car! She was a blue sedan, and she was awesome and really fast! We basically got attached to our car since we were using her on a regular basis, and that made it kinda hard to let it go. Well, don’t fret! Because I bet you will be able to own a car again!