Monday, November 11, 2013

Day 99 of 365: Test Drive

Okay, get ready for it. I'm about the talk about cars like I did househunting and bring it all back to relationships. You have been warned.

I haven't owned a car since I was 20. My parents bought me a 1999 Chevy Cavalier sometime after I got my permit because both my parents drove stick shift and I had no car to learn from. Plus, I had just been hired at a local clothing store, and my parents were sick of picking me up and dropping me off.

That sad malformation of a sick VW Bug was my baby. But I was going to college in Boston and didn't need a car. Originally it was going to be my brother's car during my hiatus, but my dad ended up getting an automatic SUV to replace his dying pick-up and my brother prefered that vehicle tenfold. I was twenty when I found out they had sold it.

However, living in Boston meant I didn't need a car. I had a monthly LinkPass on my Charlie Card and I had a membership to Zipcar. I learned manual transmission when I visited home (because I hated driving SUVs just that much) and caught the next bus back to the Red Line when it was time to go back.

We moved to Nashua, which doesn't exactly have the most comprehensive public transit system, but my husband's job was across the street, mine was a mile down the road, and everything we needed was within a mile's walking distance, if that (the Shaw's was right next to the apartment estate, alongside a Marshall's and a PetSmart, so I was content). I biked to work on the nice days and shared my husband's car otherwise.

And now we live in the sticks of New Hampshire. Or at least what my Boston sensibilities sees as the sticks of New Hampshire. People who actually live in the boondocks look at towns like mine and go, "What are you talking about? There's at least 10,000 people there! Not tiny at all!" Regardless, things are a little more spread out. Ideally, we would've purchased a car in September when we moved, but some last-minute closing price spikes (and the knowledge we would be paying two and a half months rent on an empty apartment) kind of destroyed the money we had set aside for a down payment.

But now we're on somewhat more settle ground. God willing, we don't owe another cent to the leasing office (and maybe we'll get a cent or two of our deposit back) and we've found a good routine when it comes to paying off our credit cards (because we might've gotten overzealous and taken full advantage of Home Depots/Lowes/Amazon's "no interest on your first purchase for 6 months" and purchased a few of the essentials, like, say, a grill and a firepit and theatre stereo be fair, we also got things like ladders and a wheelbarrow) and making decently-sized mortgage payments. Which means, absurdly long story short, we were ready to car shop.

I wanted a Prius. I wanted a Prius so badly. They were the cheapest per-hour car in Zipcar and I fell in love with the 2009 model they had. Ooooh, I was going to get a Prius and it was going to be silver and I was going to get a license plate that said '+5ENERGY' (because you can take the girl out of the MMORPGs, but not the MMORPGs out of the girl).

(For those playing the home game, games like World of Warcraft have a feature where the armor/jewelry/mount/etc can boost parts of your character. Here, something that has +5 Energy means I'd have more energy than without it. It's a very nerdy and silly MPG joke.)

So we went to the Toyota dealership.

I test drove the new Prius

...And I hated it.

They changed everything around. The consul wasn't intuitive. The steering wheel felt weird. There was a weird grinding noise when you'd accelerate that made me think I was breaking the car. I left Toyota feeling like everything I knew was a lie. Well, not quite. But almost.

And so began the Great Test Drive of '13. If it came in hatchback/closeback form, I tried it. I even got a chance to test drive a few BMWs -- one of which was stickshift. I weighed the pros and the cons of each car. There was no car I outright hated (although the Versa Note and the Mazda3 came close to it), but nothing really felt right.

I had dismissed checking out Subarus (even though my brother-in-law owns a Subaru dealership in New Hampshire) because I found the Outback to be pretty dumb looking. But I gave it a chance and soon my eyes fell on the Impreza. One test drive around the town and I knew this was the car for me. Even Isaac noted that I was more comfortable with this car than I was with any of the others.

I had expected to get a Prius, only to realize it wasn't for me anymore. I got hooked on the idea of owning a BMW. I went in all directions, but it was the one place I had dismissed that I found the car that was right for me.

See where I'm going here? In fact, it almost lines up with my dating life perfectly: I expected that the frat boy I was head over heels for was going to be The One. Turned out he had changed into -- or maybe just revealed himself to be -- something I didn't really want at the end of the day. I dabbled in all walks of life in the dating world. I got hooked on the idea of dating this rich, pretty boy from my dorm hall (the one who made my Gaydar light up like a Christmas Tree). I met my husband, and spent a solid month dismissing my own feelings because -- dammit -- I said I was done with boys and I'm going to stick to that and why are you making me breakfast and actually being nice to me?

It took taking a chance even when I swore I knew it all to get me where I am today. Both with my husband and with my (hopefully) future car. However, unlike my husband, I don't have to call up my brother-in-law and see if he can order me one at a good discount.

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