When I was 19 years old my dad bought me a car.
It wasn't my first car... when I was in high school I received a hand-me-down Honda Civic from my older sister (and it was no crappy hand-me-down... it was a nice little car)... but it was the first car I ever really picked.
I remember when we left to go look at cars that day. I was so excited, I could barely contain myself. And so desperate to have a car (I'd been bumming rides from friends and riding a bike around my college town for a year) that I said "Oh daddy! I'll take any car! Anything!"
So we headed off to the car dealerships.
And at first, I really did think I'd take anything. Four wheels and runs? Those were my qualifications. Until we started looking. And the options were endless! I wanted my car to be little and cute and have a sunroof.
I remember my dad looking horrified as I pulled away from the Ford dealership with a 20-something salesman in a black mustang GT, peeling out of the parking lot and leaving him in the dust. As much as I jumped up and down and pleaded, he wasn't buying me that car.
And then the Toyota Paseo, which I thought was JUST perfect, while some poor salesman jammed himself in the backseat and my dad's head literally hit the roof in the passenger seat. I, however, fit perfectly. My dad urged me strongly to consider other vehicles.
When we got to the Chevrolet dealership the salesman led us to an entire row of brand new Cavaliers (all of the other cars in our price range had been used) and my dad desperately tried to get me to look at them. I didn't like them and I wouldn't even come close. I stood about 10 feet away and snubbed my nose while my dad pleaded "Honey, they're brand new!" When I look back I feel so bad for that poor salesman. And dad, too.
A couple of times we found ourselves in one of those little rooms. The "What do I have to do to make this deal work?" rooms. Once for a Saturn I could have taken or left and once for a Nissan 200SX that I desperately wanted. Both times the salesman and my dad could not come to an agreement.
It was late in the day when we found it. And it was as if she called to me from across the parking lot.
A silver Mitsubishi Mirage Coupe. She had everything I wanted in a car. She was sparkly silver with a sporty spoiler, a tape player and a CD player. Standard transmission and a sunroof. And when I drove her the first time, it was like heaven.
I had that car for several years. It drove me to college and drove me home. I knew just how to pack it so that it could easily contain all of my personal belongings. That car and I loved each other.
Sometimes I still dream I'm driving that car. And in my dream I'll be shocked that I found it again. I'll be like "Oh YES! It was in the garage the whole time, I just forgot!" And I'll jump in it and go.
The Man says I have glorified that car because I had it during a time in my life that I idealized. I had it during those blissful years when I had my own apartment and lived on my own, before I had children, when I was only responsible for myself. It represents a sort of freedom I'll never see again and in my dreams I'm reliving that freedom for just a little bit.
I guess he's right. There's just something about a car that can make you feel like nothing else.
Not to say I don't love my minivan. I do. It's probably the most reliable car I've ever owned and I picked that one out all on my own, too. Though... my qualifications were a little different at that time. My minivan has been through hell and back and starts right up and goes every day. It's nearing the end of its life now and I actually sometimes verbally thank it when I get in it and it goes. It's become like an old friend to me.
But nothing will ever compare to my little Mitsubishi.