I've tried very hard not to totally sever my ties to the more magical aspects of childhood, which has proven over the years to be a definitely mixed blessing. One of these is that, even at my rapidly-advancing age, I cannot avoid ascribing sentience to inanimate objects which are important to me. Certain pieces of furniture, family heirlooms, artwork, even pieces of clothing--almost anything that evokes strong memories becomes, to me, far more than merely a "thing." They become, somehow, extensions of myself.
I've recently been debating what has proven to be a major and rather traumatic life change: selling my car. I have owned a car since I was seventeen years old, and I have subconsciously totally bought into the concept of equating a car with independence. To give up one is to give up the other. That I can easily rent a car whenever I might need one, and that there is a car rental agency within two blocks of my apartment, means nothing.
I love my car. It and my beloved 1978 Toyota Corolla are the best cars I've ever owned. I bought both off the showroom floor, and I had each of them for 12 years. My current car is a green 1999 Chevy Metro 4-door; stick shift, air conditioning, stereo system. It has less than 70,000 miles, gets 43 miles to the gallon, and given me very few problems. When I got it, I nicknamed it Bunny (yes, I know...).
I live in Chicago, less than a block from the L lines and major bus routes, and I have to make a conscious effort to drive my car even once a month. Even then, it's usually not because I really need it to get somewhere, but just to exercise it. Logic dictates that it is foolish to spend somewhere around $1,000 a year on insurance, license plate fees, and city stickers--not to mention the cost of gas, though I seldom need it. To have a perfectly good car just sitting there when someone could get use out of it is foolish.
I truly dread the idea of going through the hassle of selling it...ads in the paper, notes posted here and there, phone calls, showing it who knows how many times. I've even considered simply donating it to a worthy charity to avoid all the frustration. (The A.S.P.C.A., for example, will arrange to pick up any vehicle, then sell it and give the donor a receipt to be used for tax purposes.)
A month or so ago, when I first began thinking of selling it, a maintenance man in my building somehow heard about it and expressed an interest in buying it. I gave him all the details and, since it's parked in the building's lot, told him to look it over. Last week he made me an offer and I, emotional issues aside, accepted. He said he would bring me the money day after tomorrow. Yesterday, totally unexpectedly, he knocked on my door saying he was ready to pick it up. I hadn't had a chance to go through the car to remove anything I might want to keep, nor had I gotten the title out of the box in my closet. I told him it would take me about fifteen minutes and he said he'd meet me in the parking lot.
I hate rushing, and felt rushed by his showing up several days early without my having sufficient time to pull everything...including myself...together.
Went to the parking lot, saw him and a friend standing by a car some distance from mine. It seems he had the wrong car, though I had described mine to him in detail when we first talked.
They came over, the maintenance man looked inside and said, "Is this a stick shift? I don't know how to drive a stick shift."
Considering he had thought it was a different car and that he wouldn't be able to drive mine anyway, I said, "Well, nice try," and returned to my apartment.
Bunny is still mine. But the trauma is not resolved...just delayed further. I know I'll have to resolve it some day. But not today.
Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1 ).