Sunday, June 1, 2008

Cars Can Change Your Life

One night last week my husband explained that the car wouldn’t start. Since it was in the garage, I just left it there. The next day I jumped in the Jeep. Between piano lessons and soccer practice the Jeep wouldn’t start. How can both vehicles stop running at the same time?

For most families this would be a catastrophe but we have a Class B RV van and a classic ’72 Hurst, so I just grabbed another set of keys. After a few trips in the bulky RV and a realization that it didn’t fit in the school carpool lane, I went with the Hurst, which we call “Sylvester”.

Sylvester is great for Sunday drives as a family and perfect-weather evenings with the windows down. As it’s all white with gold racing strips, heads turn at every intersection. The front hood is soooo long and the V8 is mighty powerful. The attention from passerby is addictive. People wave and smile.

Both vehicles were in the shop for a week. The old car grew really old.

As I raced from appointment to pickup to practice, I kept glancing at the dashboard clock, except there is no dashboard clock. Honestly, I didn’t realize how much I look at the clock all day. Old cars don’t have cup holders either. In the morning my coffee mug was stuck between my legs and in the afternoon my bottle of green tea. Here’s the worst part, only an AM radio. Granted, I like news radio but not all the time, so I had to drive around with my ipod in my ears. Those little conveniences never meant anything to me. All the hoopla about cup holders always seemed ridiculous, but my perspective changed.

Each day I felt out of place. For some reason I was always a few minutes late. I had to keep using a key to open the doors. A key takes longer than a remote and the doors are more difficult to open. Sometimes the key needs to be jiggled to get the car started. Most of the time I didn’t have a reason for being late but everything was just slower. Since the car is so precious I had to drive carefully. Other drivers look at Sylvester and vere off in unexpected patterns. Driving requires more time and attention.

I had no idea that a vehicle could make such a difference. Day after day I felt out of sorts, cut off from my life. Your vehicle changes the way you feel. So for the first time in my life, I’m wondering what I could feel like behind the wheel of a different automobile.

I’ve never had a dream car. My dad bought me an old Duster with racing stripes and slated windows when I graduated from college but I was never fond of it. When I bought my first car my goal was dependability and price. The Buick Skyhawk looked cool in black but then the dealership called and reported that the car was discontinued in black. When we married, my husband and I bought a Jeep Cherokee because it felt right to both of us, rugged, ready to work. My husband picked out the current sedan and even though I knew it would wind up being mine when his commute as a professor ended, my only request was cutting-edge safety features for our new baby son.

Practical. I’ve always been practical. My recent week with Sylvester made me realize that cars can change the way you feel about yourself. Can a new life really be as easy as a new set of car keys? If it’s true I want a sports car, preferably a convertible. Sleek and fast for dodging around town. Ease and style would be at my fingertips in every suburban parking lot.

Although very powerful, our fine automobiles are not the only material thing capable of changing your day. Last year, I just felt down in the dumps when I rolled out of bed. Resisting the temptation to put on old baggy clothes to mirror my feelings, I grabbed a flattering outfit and put on the war paint. Down at the kid’s school, everyone responded to me with enthusiasm because I looked happy. I knew that if I was standing there dressed like I felt, nobody would have been cheery.

All the world’s a stage. My son is going to be the prince in Cinderella. He’s very upset because they are stuck with the forest set from the preceding play. He wants a castle. He wants the right props. Without them, it just won’t be the same.

Our everyday lives can also benefit from the right scenery. Brandishing the props – cars or clothes – can set the stage for success but really it’s all about your attitude. The way you feel is the way people will respond. These things shouldn’t matter but we’re human in a material world.

The convertible will make me feel just fine.

1 comment:

  1. I *LOVE* Sylvester; he's beautiful! Even if he's old and doesn't have all the luxuries some of today's cars have. Actually, my newest car is a 95 has a cup holder and aftermarked am/fm/cd/stereo out for my Mp3 player. But no power windows or door locks, it's a stick shift, and I have to use keys.

    I have a 79 Trans Am's not running right now, but I hope to have it running before the end of summer so we can start body work on it. It's black and gold! LOVE it!

    I know what you mean about attitude ...but I find my attitude is often catalyzed by my 'props', if you will. I really do try to make the most of everything, but after doing that for so long, I cave.

    That probably didn't make any sense whatsoever. Sorry!