I think i’m having a mid life crisis… or ‘car’sis, as it were.
Three years ago I went to the dark side. No, not the car lot – although it is a rather dark and scary place – the mini van driver’s seat.
I have always thought of myself as an out-of-the-box type. I like tall things. I’m a tall person, so that makes sense. My first vehicle was a mail jeep.
Not a boy Jeep, but an actual postal vehicle. I have pictures somewhere. I loved this thing! Big fat tires, big bus driver steering wheel which was on the right side. Sliding doors I could leave open when driving.
But it leaked. It didn’t rain often in So Cal, but whenever it did, the water would go through the hood vent and right onto my legs. It had a bad radiator – or I just didn’t know I was supposed to check it periodically and add water. I loved it, but it died a slow death in the hands of an inexperienced 17 year old.
After that was a series of cheap barely running cars. I had a Fiero that was great until you factored in the hour and a half commute on the 405 in Southern California. It was a stick shift. (BOOO!!)
I had a beat up VW Bug that had a rusted out hole in the drivers side floor board. I had a cabriolet that I did love. I somehow inherited my mom’s Nissan pickup which was also a stick, and a lot of fun…. until the clutch went out in the fast lane during rush hour (still) on the 405.
Once I grew up, I drove an Accord with an actual stereo system and sun roof. I thought I was a baller with this car. I had a Dodge Ram quad cab that was great, but with a newborn and a car seat, it was not the greatest…. especially in Arizona where the summers get upwards of 115/117. I pull the smoking half melted stroller out of the bed and singe my hands on the handle.. that did not make for a happy momma.
We’ve had an Expedition that made it to nearly 100K miles with us and two states. My Mazda CX-7 was one of my favorites. That was my first super fancy shmancy vehicle. Leather seats, 5 disc CD changer that I can only say was like a space ship when you changed the discs. This thing was fast and had a sunroof. I loved that car.
So three years ago we were trying to be practical and get a vehicle that had three rows of seats to accommodate anyone and everyone that *might* be visiting us, paired with the possibility of road trips to California or distant locations not to exceed the Eastern border of Washington state. We wanted something that had room for our own 6ft and nearly 6ft statures and (retired) professional wrestler-esque physiques. We decided a minivan would be the answer… IF we could find the elusive “cool” minivan.
An oxymoron to say the least.
I got pretty close in my 2012 Nissan Quest. I love the way it handles. I love the different body style. I loved the big rounded rear windows. The issue soon became the 2 wheel drive and traction control. Living at the top of a big hill in a place where snow and ice are common in the winter feels a bit squirrely. It’s great *but* …. three years have gone by, only one kid needs to be in a booster now, and we had to turn my van in for service.
How can you go to a dealership and not look? How?! Forget the instant migraine that is caused by stepping foot on a lot and staring at a window sticker. Forget the clammy desperate hand shakes from the slimy salesmen. It’s just fun to window shop, right? right? RIGHT?!
Because when you have both kids in tow, and the husband, you only hear half of the car information. You are too focused on keeping the
rabid animals fruit of your loins from ripping each others eyeballs out, getting the booster into the test drive, who fits where, who’s rolling down their windows, “No we aren’t buying this one.”, “Yes we like this one”, “Don’t spill the water on the seats!” fielding 18,000 questions from the backseat so you can’t actually hear what the car sounds like to begin with, turning up the music when the 4 year old declares from the back, “This is my JAM!” and begins seat dancing at 45mph.
It’s just a lot.
Since we were out in unseasonably hot 93 degree sunshine and my brains were being scrambled, I was fairly vulnerable to the breath of fresh air that appeared in the form of a bright blue hard top Jeep Wrangler Sahara.
I could feel my fingers start to itch to just open the fun door handle. It wasn’t a polished chrome pull bar. It was a black matte fat thumb button. There were no automatic sliding doors. There were only four actual doors attached with a cloth strap that looked suspiciously removable. There was not a low profile cautious body, but a tall chunky square you have to climb to get into. No bubble butt hatch in the back, but rather a big fat “F-You” spare tire attached to a rear door and top window panel that flips up.
I started to feel less like a 38 year old mother of 2, and more like “me”. If I didn’t have kids, I would be driving this….. but wait, says the voice in my head. (The bad one) “Why can’t you drive it now?” Who says you HAVE to have a minivan just because you’re a stay at home mom? Why can’t driving to the grocery store be fun? I feel like i’m in my car all.the.time. Shouldn’t I be having some kind of fun while i’m in it?
Granted, the cost of feeding such a guzzler makes for tough logic, but still…. I don’t commute.
And then I looked up at the roof. A hard top. I recognized the roof release latch that were reminiscent of my cabriolet. I looked at my husband with sparkles in my eyes, a hand on my child’s mouth, and a grin on my face; “The top comes off!”
We can drive with the top off!! Forget that my sensory-challenged wind-hating son would never abide by a roofless car. Forget that my four year old would likely be tossing goldfish to the pigeons at every stop light. Forget that we live in Washington state where it rains 85% of the year…. in the summer (a.k.a. right now) we can drive not only with the top off, but the doors off and the windshield down.
I feel the layers of mom-dom peeling away the longer I think about the possibility of driving this vehicle. It offers me the possibility of being myself and a mom chauffeur?! Wouldn’t everyone benefit from mom rocking out to the 9-speaker surround system?! (we’ll just pretend for a moment i’ll ever get to actually listen to my own music)
Imagine the joy of blasting my kid’s music and making everyone at the stop lights hear Elmo singing from a Jeep Wrangler!
So what if it’s a little noisy on the highway? We have taken a grand total of ONE road trip in the three years we’ve owned the van. ONE. We just started going camping… but the Jeep would be better for that, no? We do not get visitors enough to warrant me driving/parking/maneuvering a third row seat everywhere we go 365 days a year.
I’m afraid this vehicle is a very tempting siren of what I actually want, and not a whole lot of what I should be driving. I’ve never been one to blindly accept what’s best just for the sake of logic. I like living outside the box a little. And that can be a little scary… probably more for my husband than for me, though.
For now I have to go back to the van. The sensible, logical, child-toting daycare on wheels. But who knows? Perhaps a little fun and crazy is waiting in the wings!!