***If you are at all interested in being a Real Live Writer when you grow up, you must go read these How To Write A Book entries by Maureen Johnson. Because they are hilarious. And feature Muppet screenshots.***
I thought of a million things I wanted to write about the other day while I was driving home behind a VW van going 25 miles an hour. So slow and for so long that I had time to read every single ridiculous bumper sticker slapped across its rusted back end. In an attempt to use my rage productively, I started writing blog posts in my head, but they've left me now. Perhaps I need a horrendously slow be-stickered VW van in front of me to churn the creative juices.
Of course, that doesn't mean I won't find something to write about. There is ALWAYS something to write about.
We're picking up the new car tonight. I guess that's something. We've been frantically pulling all the money stuff together (and by "we" I mean "Phillip" as I am just sitting around reading the Internet and waiting for Phillip to IM me with the latest interest rates.) It's a little intimidating, because we haven't had a car payment and now we will and ack! Bills are scary! Of course it's nothing like buying a house. Buying a house is in its own plane of terrifying existence. The debt we are in for this house is so overwhelming it's like it isn't even real. But it seems like, in order to buy a house, one must sink oneself into humongous debt. It's just what is done. Debt shmebt! Bring on the hardwood floors and tiled bathrooms! A car loan, however... Gak. Not thinking about that.
I have never had a new car. I've never really had a CAR. Okay, I have the beloved automobile, but it was gifted to me by my father-in-law who looooves me (and wanted room in his garage for a fancy Highlander.) I adore my car for sentimental reasons, but I did not buy it. I hardly even take care of it. (Devil On Shoulder: Perhaps the beloved automobile would not be flaking out on you in the middle of bridges if you, you know, changed the oil every so often. Maggie: That is what husbands are for. Devil: I'm just sayin'. Maggie: flips off Devil.) Before the beloved automobile I was somewhat responsible for my parents' ancient minivan that they kept here to use during the summers. I can't tell you how driving a blue minivan upped my cool quotient during the college years. Everyone wanted to drive with me. (Although I'm reminded of Ferris Bueller here, who calls Cameron's car a piece of crap, but since Ferris himself doesn't even have a piece of crap, he has to envy Cameron's. Take that, transportationally challenged college friends!)
Before that I had nothing. I barely had a driver's license. I went to high school overseas, where driving is not the Thing is stateside. Well, I may not know what I am talking about, because everything I know about the true American teenage experience comes from televsion, but television taught me that getting your driver's license on your 16th birthday is nothing less than a sacrament. Is this true? My husband was driving himself to school in a little pickup truck when he was 16. But no one drove when I was 16. Unless you count someone's older brother who flunked out of college and was back home living with mommy and daddy and ferrying us all to the discos on Saturday nights.
When I was a misbehaving 14-year-old, I lived somewhere that allowed teenagers to drive if they had a stateside license. A few of them did, but we weren't terribly impressed by it or anything. Most of us lived on base which meant everything was within walking distance. It wasn't a concern of mine until I started going out with a boy with a car. And even then it wasn't much of a big deal (we lived on a 12 by 18 mile island for goodness' sake) except for the fact that I was not allowed, under any circumstances, to ride in this boy's car. (Which meant I did, all the time, often right past my house where I would slouch down and pray my parents didn't happen to be looking out the window.)
God saw fit to move me away from the boy with the car and plunked me down in the middle of No Cars Anywhere Ever Too Bad For You. At this base you had to have a stateside license AND be 18 or older. Which meant no one was driving, even though there was no base housing and some of us lived closer to Austria than school. Dear U.S. Government: a more lenient driving policy would have probably saved you thousands in therapy for American high school students stationed with their families at this particular base. The only way you ever saw your friends outside of school was to cajole your folks into driving you to someone's house, always in another town, or staying after to play sports. And this is why my high school dominated the entire league in every sport- there was nothing else to do. After practice you rode home on the "activity bus" and God help you if you didn't have a friend or two living on your route.
All of that meant I didn't get my driver's license until I was a timid 19-year-old who passed the driving test only because my test guy took pity on me and said I was probably "mature enough" to learn how to parallel park on my own. Now I know there are some people who grew up stateside and don't have have their licenses (still!), but this stymies me. Isn't that what you DO? Drive around and go to the mall and meet up for pizza and make out in the back seat? Or have I been watching too many '80s movies? ('Can't Buy Me Love' was on the other night. That movie rocks. Although it still doesn't make me interested in Grey's Anatomy. Maybe if it was ALL Patrick Dempsey and nothing about that lispy girl who could benefit from a few loaves of French bread.)
But tonight? I will have my very own car. All mine. Brand new. Mine mine mine. I thought if I ever bought my own car it would be some used beater that I could back into poles and have the resulting damage be indistinguishable from the rest of the car. Of course, I also thought I'd be living in a studio apartment for the next 30 years, working a crap job solely to fund my next backpacking trip.