Monday, March 31, 2008

Livin' My Life in Cars


My car had a 2 night, $270 a night, all expenses paid trip to Northeast Muffler while we were on vacation.  Truth be told, it actually had about a two week vacation.  I hadn't driven it since March 14.  I knew it had a little bit of an oil leak (okay, and the hood release was broken too), but the fine folks at Northeast Muffler looked it over last Thursday and let me know that it actually had several leaks.  Because I live in the country, NM had to order the parts from Saturn on Thursday and couldn't do the dirty work until Friday.  When Cindy gave me the bad news, I told her I'd prefer to leave the car there overnight because I'd probably have to put in 4 quarts of oil just to get it home and another 4 quarts of oil to get it back.  She said "Yeah, you're pretty much pouring the oil on the ground at this point."  You have to love the automobile repair professionals...such funny people.  

I've been trying to understand my negative relationship with cars.  Perhaps it's because I have only owned one new car in the time I've been driving; perhaps it's because I live in the country, where things that go wrong often go very wrong.  Your car doesn't just break down on the road; it breaks down in the middle of nowhere where there's no cell service (though the advent of the cell phone has made me a little more comfortable about driving).  Also, the distance from where I live to just about anywhere that anything interesting happens is a minimum of 45 minutes.  Sure you can get to Freshtown or the Post Office or even to Millerton to Oblong Books, but you're pretty stranded without a car; if you're me, and you don't like to ask for help, you're definitely stranded.  In any case, I rarely drive anywhere without feeling slightly apprehensive about what could happen.   

As my parents often point out, I seem to enjoy making my life more difficult for myself.  I knew by March 14th that I had to get the car taken care of ASAP, but I waited at least another week before I called to make the appointment, knowing full well that I would not drive my car until I got it fixed.  I suffer from an anxiety disorder, and by waiting, I got to keep the car anxiety close to the forefront of my brain.  Maybe the anxiety I can control is preferable to the anxiety I can't control?  And then there is the anxiety that is bound up in the possibility that the garage will find more wrong with my car than I ever anticipated, and that has happened more times than I care to remember.

I don't know that I will ever overcome these car issues.  It's a ridiculous manifestation of my anxiety because I'm not exactly sitting at home in comfortable denial while my car is off the road.  I feel powerless and dependent and stupid.  I want my car to be safe, I want my family to be safe in my car, and I do not care to be stranded on the side of the road with a hungry toddler.  This summer, we're planning to buy a new car because neither of our vehicles is really large enough at this point to cart our stuff around.  We couldn't go camping right now if we tried, for example.  Plus, I'm beginning to think the average Saturn is made to last about 8 years, and mine is a 2000.  This time I'll buy an automatic so we can both drive both cars (clever, hunh?), and maybe I can convince my husband to take on the care of my car (it's worth a try).  In the meantime, there's still a rattly noise underneath that is probably going to earn my Saturn another little vacation soon.
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