We Bought a Convertible: My Not Midlife Crisis

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I stared at the phone in my hand. My sister had texted me two words: MIDLIFE CRISIS. Because I sent her a pic of a convertible I saw while driving home with my seven-year-old daughter. But I bought one, anyway.

A Brief History of Responsible Automobiles

My parents always bought cars with cash. I don't know if they still do, but when we were growing up there were never debts like car payments floating around. Never. I was fortunate enough to drive not one but two used manual-shift Chevy Novas during high school, and when I went off to college, my parents surprised me with a used but still I thought white-hot burgundy Ford Probe. Its doors were tank-like, and it had those headlights that flip up and the seatbelts that move over you instead of you having to buckle them. (If you're under the age of 30, you probably have no idea such a thing used to exist. It did, and it was so awesomely Star Wars I can't even begin to describe it.)

I kept Peg the Probe from 1992 until 1998, when she sadly began a rapid deterioration into Things Were Falling Off Every Day. My father let me buy his car, Priscilla the Prizm, off him for $4,000. At the time, I had this sort of money in my savings account (the young, houseless and childless can be rich) and off I went to move to Kansas City in Priscilla.

In 2005, Priscilla and I were T-boned on a busy street by a SUV that was much bigger than we were. I was pretty distraught, because her axle was bent and JUST LIKE THAT I went from having no car payment to needing a car, stat. By this time, I was married and my husband and I had replaced his Ford Escort with a Ford Explorer, which we owned outright. We liked the Explorer so much we decided to get another one, because the one we had seemed like it would die soon, and then when that car died, we'd just replace it with something more Prizm-like. It made total and complete sense to us at the time -- gas was cheap, we had a baby and a ton of baby stuff and we made road trips up to Iowa at least once a month with all our junk in tow.

In 2008, gas prices did that thing. You remember that thing? When none of us could afford to go farther than two feet? And my husband and I owned two -- not one but TWO -- gas-sucking SUVs. We were spending $150 a week on gas. I freaked out and demanded we right our wrong immediately, but when we went to buy a Corolla, the used ones didn't exist. No one was letting go of a small, fuel-efficient car. So we ended up with another car payment and a very sensible, new, very basic Corolla.

Which then got hit by a tornado.

This is what it looks like when the universe is trying to tell you something.


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