Friday, September 12, 2014

Feeling Free

I'm afraid to say that we have become *that* family. The one that has too many moving vehicles for two adults. One SUV, one economical daily driver (does a WRX count as that? I don't know), and four motorcycles (okay, well only one of those is street legal, but still). And does a pop up tent trailer count? It's quite enough. But, yet, there was something missing...

A true sports car. A car that I could have only ever imagined having one day. And yet, I thought I would never achieve that because I am rational about big purchases.

I am a practical person for the most part. I don't like to show off things I have. I can be almost embarrassed by things I own that might be considered for people of a certain stature. As some of my close friends know, I am a bargain shopper. I never like to pay full price, and I rarely do.  So, why this car, you may wonder?

I have wondered that myself, but I always knew this was a car that I would love to have some day. We definitely didn't *need* another car. My dad's passing last summer made me think a lot about everything, and there is a story that I had not planned to share, but it helped me feel that I was making the right decision in doing something for me.

When I was growing up, my dad and brother started a project together (can't say I wasn't a little bit jealous). They purchased an old Karmann Ghia. It was a piece of junk when they got it, but their project was to restore it into a beautiful piece of metal made for the road. And, boy, did they ever. Cherry red, white leather, all the bells and whistles. The car was golden and you would think it was brand new.

When the car was completed, it became my brothers. When he went to college, my dad came to me one day and said, "I can see how much you like the car. How about I teach you to drive it and then it's yours?" I could hardly believe it, and yet, I was completely intimidated to learn how to drive a stick shift. To this day, I still think learning how to drive a stick shift is toughest to do on those classic cars.

I was so excited, I hid my reservations about learning to him. We drove over to where I went to high school and sat in the parking lot while he explained to me how it all worked. Sounded easy. So, there we were for a good hour of me just trying to take my foot off the clutch just enough so that I wouldn't stall the thing. Can't tell you how many times I stalled, but once I did get it, it was like magic. Exhilarating, even. After practicing going from first to second gear, he thought we should hit the open road.

So, we did. Out of the high school parking lot and straight up to a signal, there were no problems. As I made a left turn, we were heading up a hill and I was cruising in third. What I had hoped wouldn't happen at that point, did. There was a light mid-hill, and it turned yellow. I had to stop. Sitting at the light, I began to get real nervous, being on a hill and all, and someone had pulled up right behind me. When the light turned green, I stalled. Turned the key, and stalled again. Then, again. Now being honked at, I started to panic, and the car started rolling backward because I had the clutch in and was so frazzled as to what to do. My dad pulled up the emergency brake calmly. I started crying, and I got out of the car in the middle of the road. He got out, too. I screamed, "I don't want this fucking car!"

I was such an idiot. A stupid teenager who didn't understand what kind of luck she had, and that her dad wanted her to have something she had been eyeing for so long. So stupid.

When my dad passed away, I knew that I wanted something that would remind me of him and hopefully turn this memory into more of one with a happy ending. We began to search for a Karmann Ghia, but our search was difficult. It was hard to find a gem in all of the ads. When we did find one, I went to test drive it. It actually brought back horrible memories of that day, but it also reminded me how horrible it was to actually drive. Difficult clutch, no power anything. If anything came out of it, I am sure I would get some muscle in my arms from that steering wheel. I decided in my heart that if I did buy it, it would only sit in the driveway. If I am going to have a car, I am going to drive it. It *needs* to be driven!

We stopped talking about it for a while. Then, Josh started hinting around at the idea again. Not a Karmann Ghia, but maybe something else. I'd always dreamed of having a Porsche, but my fear again was feeling labeled by something. I kept thinking about it and putting it off. I knew I wanted it, but being super practical in everything I do, I just felt like I shouldn't. It's not something we need. He told me that I should just go look at one and test drive it and then I could call it a day if it wasn't for me.

So, that's what we did. I absolutely loved it. It wasn't the first one we looked at, but the second one. I kept thinking of my dad. I felt that he was looking down at me and smiling. I never do anything like this for me, ever. Once I decided and we were driving to the bank, Josh said, "You know, after everything, you really deserve to do this for yourself." I'm so glad I did.

That day, with the girls away at camp, we hit some back roads in the area and it was the most beautiful thing I've felt in a long time. Wind in my hair. Sun on my body. I felt so free of everything. And a feeling of relief. Like, this was meant to be. I felt like my dad was right there with me.

Every time I have gotten in the car since, I think of him. That's what this means to me. And also that I did get *my* dream car. I know that's what he would have wanted for me.