by Lisa

My name is Lisa, and I care what I drive.

This confession, admission, comes on the heels of acquiring a replacement for the sedan purchased just two years ago, in the aftermath of leaving my husband.  That car was and is a very good car bought for a very good price, and it’s in fine shape and has low miles for a Honda that’s been properly maintained.  I’d considered selling it last year, but the whole process gets complicated when a replacement ride can only be obtained with the profit from the sale of the current ride.

My cousin solved that catch-22 by selling me a Jeep on very gentle terms.  This Jeep, I love.  So far.  Snow and four wheel drive go well together.  We’d have been stuck last week, truly homebound, if the Honda was our only option.  It would crawl through the drifts, but I do not like the sensation of riding in a two-ton sleigh.  The Jeep does not slide.  The Jeep moves with confidence, and my only concern is about the other drivers with whom I must share slippery roads.  Even with excellent traction and a nice wide wheel base, the Jeep and I move with caution, deliberately.  Deliberate doesn’t describe some drivers, especially drivers of enormous, growling trucks that I know push through the snow on the power of rear wheel drive and testosterone and overconfidence.  At least the diesel engines get troublesome at low temps, I’ve heard.

I care what I drive for practical reasons. My vanity does not come into play.  The Honda looked sort of sporty, low to the ground, two doors, a smooth flow of sparkly gold steel that loved to go fast.  The only two speeding tickets I’ve ever earned were in that car.  Men of a certain age smiled and waved and honked when I drove it while I wore sunglasses.  Something about the sunglasses set them off, I think, because without sunglasses, the honking and waving dramatically decreased.  So, it was kind of a cool-looking ride, to some, especially bored truckers with a good view down into the driver’s side window.  The Honda garnered compliments.

Everyone likes compliments, but I disagreed with the nice people who flattered the car. The problem?  I don’t like hitting my head when I get out of a car, I don’t like the idea of glass up above where steel should be, and I think regular car trunks are a good way to forget what I’m carrying.  Not much fit into it, anyway. Unloading the Honda for the almost-last time, I discovered a forgotten tool box, a very ripped yoga mat, three blankets, the carrying case for some jumper cables but no jumper cables, and many Goodwill-bound bags of mystery clothing, among great clods of earth from the time I dug daffodils on the side of the road in Kentucky.  Now, I know the same trunk holds just my good suitcase (unpacked, how odd), that tool box, and a bunch of Keurig coffee pods that I can’t use now.  The damned coffee machine broke.

We, the current residents of The Charming Wreck, can all fit into the Jeep together, at once.  The dog can sit in the back end, where a trunk would be in an average vehicle.  This simple convenience changes the game, opens up opportunities for travel-with-dog, an idea whose time has come.  He has good manners, and I know he’s ready for some sightseeing.

My small person believes that two people can sleep in the back, an idea I had not suggested but I’d considered.  I like the way she thinks. Living in a van down by the river is a concept that crosses the minds of more that a few of my female friends, so close to the edge of the possibility of poverty, and I appreciate a vehicle large enough to accommodate a mattress.  A part of my brain has always been reserved for worst-case scenarios and how to make a worst into an adventure.  My bags stay mentally packed after eighteen moves, some movement by choice and some by necessity. Someday, we’ll go home forever, but for now, we are here and happy.  I know what I’d grab if the house caught fire, and what we’d need to get by until home happens.  We don’t need much.

However, we wouldn’t live down by the river.  We’d get ourselves to a beach, and make a worst case scenario into a colorful gypsy-esque life chapter.  I’m on the market for a sturdy but cheap footlocker to hold the basic gear for such an event.  Curtains for the windows would be a stylish touch, and screens to keep out mosquitoes seem essential. Carrying warm things and comfortable things and cooking things is common sense in any life situation, (see any bug-out youtube advice video), but choosing those things for function and form makes for good fun.  That foot locker will get the paint job of its lifetime, and so will the cargo pod that may or may not still be under my ex’s back porch.  He doesn’t use it, and he’ll be glad to see it gone.

I care about what I drive and I take care of what I drive.  To be nickeled and dimed feels better than to be dollared to death.  The Honda’s needed its fair share of belts and parts, but I can count on it to keep on keeping on when I pass it along.  The Jeep soon needs brakes, and in another ten thousand miles, I’ll take care of that.  Spend to maintain, not to attain. We have everything we need, some things in triplicate.

Except for a little trailer.  Maybe someday, a little camper.  Maybe we’ll make a little trailer into a little camper!

Too much?

For now, my small person loves riding high in the back seat of the Jeep.  Her view has improved dramatically, and the climb into her spot no longer requires her to be a contortionist.  The door handles vex her, but these handles require a bit more muscle than she owns at eight years old.  I just open both doors on the driver’s side and tell her to climb across, problem solved until pushing a stiff button and simultaneously pulling a heavy door falls in can-do range.  This boxy old Jeep with rusty rims won’t win any beauty contests, but we think it’s rather cool.  When I deemed the weather too nasty to put that beloved small person on a bus without seat belts–INSANITY, NO?–she was excited to be seen getting out of a life-sized Tonka truck.

She cares, too.  She liked opening her own back door and climbing down with more grace that she could ever muster in the clamber out of the back seat of a coupe.

I think we’ll go fabric shopping together, and she can practice her sewing skills by making tiny curtains for our gypsy caravan, with trim of bobbly pom-pom fringe.  The Jeep will feel so stylish, when we get to that beach.