Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Happy Anniversary, Tilly!

 Around this time last year, I was teaching my daughter to drive a stick shift and, shortly thereafter, browsing at my local car dealership. The very car that had served me well for 17 years — the only new car I’d ever purchased — was in need of some expensive repairs.

It was time. But it was hard.

Over the past year, I’ve come to love my new car and all her bells and whistles (and yes, naming her helped). The name we finally agreed on? Tilly. 

Tilly is a lease, so in two years, I’ll be back at the dealership, debating another decision. But, if history is any indication, Tilly will be sticking around for a while.

In the meantime, I still feel a twinge of mixed emotions when I pass a white Scion on the road. Silly? Perhaps. But emotions don’t have to make sense. Besides, I prefer to believe that an attachment to an object that served me well means I made the right decision to spend the money in the first place.

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Last week, I said good-bye to an old friend, trading in my 17-year-old Scion XA for a subcompact SUV. Despite being the base model of its group, the new car (a VW Taos) has lots of bells and whistles -- then again, anything would, by comparison to my 2006 vehicle. I did a test drive on Memorial Day and, excited by such 21st century features as a back-up camera and Apple Car Play, I made up my mind.

Sort of.

My Scion is a 5-speed, and I'd spent some time over the weekend helping my daughter to hone her skills driving a stick shift. It had been fun, and her skills were coming along nicely, despite a few of the to-be-expected rough stops/starts in a neighborhood full of hills.

I'd always thought I'd teach my daughter to drive a stick shift on this car and, having not finished the job, I was reluctant to get rid of the car. 

Yeah. That's what it was. 

When the "check engine" light came on and the mechanic told me the necessary repairs would cost more than the first month's payment on the Taos, I took that to be a sign that it was time for us to part ways. 

Logical. Clear cut. It was time.

When I was pregnant with my daughter, I had a little gray Celica. It had been a post-break-up purchase that I referred to as my "declaration of independence" car and I loved it. The only trouble was, there was no way to fit a car seat into that vehicle. 

So I traded it in. And I cried when I did so.

That, as it turns out, was a lukewarm dress rehearsal for parting with a car -- my first new car -- that I'd driven for 17 years. I mean, they literally don't make them like her anymore! I did every mental manipulation and mathematical calculation possible to figure out a logical way to have my Scion and the Taos too but, in the end, it just didn't make sense.

So I cleared out my Scion and traded it in.

And cried pretty much every step of the way. In fact, I'm crying as I type this.

It's not that I don't know I'm being ridiculous, nor has the embarrassment of being this attached to a thing been sufficient to dissipate the emotional clouds under which my beautiful new vehicle sits (not to be confused with the actual haze of the Canadian wildfires). My Taos should be getting all of my attention, and the gratitude that I feel at having the ability to make this trade should be sufficient to nudge me into adulting in a more gracious manner.

Blah, blah, blah.

The day after I signed the papers, I had to make a trip back to the dealership. As I left, I couldn't help but search the lot for my Scion and, indeed, there she was, sitting all alone, waiting for the attention she'd get from someone willing to restore her to the condition from which she'd long since deteriorated. She looked so lonely, and I felt sad all over again.

But the deed was done. The title transferred, new keys in hand, it was time to transition.

Over the weekend, I decided that I need to name the new car. I've never done that (imagine if!) and, given my history of irrational emotional attachment to vehicles, I'm not sure it's the best idea I've ever had, but I'm going to give it a try.

After much deliberation, I settled on Sabine but, when I got into the car and used that name, it just didn't feel right. Apparently, we still need to get used to each other.

Meanwhile, it's a good thing she's an SUV because she has big wheels to fill. 

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