I have sold four cars in my life. Each time I sold the car it was because my life had changed and I needed something different.
My first car was terrible. Only one of the four doors opened from the outside (and it wasn’t the driver’s door). It burned through a quart of oil every 80 miles so I always had an entire case of Penzoil in the trunk. Within six months of owning it the alternator went out and the battery died and along with the battery my resolve to keep the car on life support died with it. Besides, I was enrolling in college and I would be working three jobs and I needed a more reliable car to get me around – preferably one that friends wouldn’t have to slide through open windows in order to get into.
My second car was a stick shift. I bought it even though I didn’t know how to drive a stick because it was so much cooler than my last car. After a couple herky-jerky hours of practice in a parking lot I thought I was ready to go. Turns out, you don’t really know if you can drive a stick shift until you get stopped at a red light on a steep hill. Also, as it turns out, that’s a terrible time to learn that you can’t drive a stick shift. I kept that car all through college and after I mastered the clutch I fell in love with that car. I took it on road trips, smoked cigars in it, discovered great music in it, had talks about Life and Love in it. As far as cars go, it was definitely my first true love. But then I got married and we had decided to move to my wife’s hometown in California and a car without air conditioning just wasn’t going to cut it. So I traded that car in and almost made enough money on it to cover the cost of the new snow tires I wouldn’t need any more and the stereo I had loved so much.
|Big enough for two people. Not quite big enough for two people, a dog, and a baby.|
My third car was a pretty normal young adult car. It was a nearly perfect compromise for that time in our life. It was sporty looking but reliable, got respectable gas mileage but had a few unnecessary frills and it had A/C and a manual transmission (I did say I learned to love driving a stick shift). That car served us well for several years and the air conditioning definitely helped me get used to the California heat. But we sold that car when we found out that we were expecting a child. You just can’t get a baby in and out of a car seat when you’re driving a low-to-the-ground 2-door. So we bought an SUV for my wife and I got the truck I had always wanted.
Years later I’m now the one driving the SUV and my wife has a new-to-us car. We sold the truck last weekend. True to the pattern, life has changed again. We have decided it is time to pack up 10-years’ worth of junk and move to a new neighborhood in a better school district because our daughter will (impossibly it seems) start school next fall. And, frankly we never thought we’d stay in our current house as long as we have. Now you might be wondering why on Earth I would sell a truck before moving. I know I am. I already miss having that thing. The plain truth is that we didn’t need three vehicles but we did need some extra cash for down payments and real estate fees and all those other expenses that come with moving. So I let go of the truck I drove for nearly a decade.
|A small truck is a great thing for a gardener.|
We are feeling cautiously optimistic. We don’t know if our house will sell or when it might. We don’t know if we’ll find the perfect house for the rest of our lives. But we feel like we’re in a good position. We don’t absolutely have to move. We can take our time and make the right decisions for our family. But tempering that optimism is a bit of melancholy. This was, after all, our first house. This is where our dog achieved his ultimate goal of becoming an inside dog. This is where Santa has found our daughter every Christmas of her life. This is the house we managed to furnish to our mutual liking in spite of my wife’s “denim furniture” phase. This is the house where we figuratively and literally sank our roots. I have cut down a bunch of burdensome trees and planted new ones that I was excited to see grow. I have planted boxwood hedges that haven’t had a chance to fill in yet. Just a few weeks ago I planted a hundred white tulips that might not bloom before we leave. So, yeah, I’m a little sad to say goodbye before I’ve seen the culmination of all that effort.
But if there’s one thing that selling cars and cutting down trees has taught me about life it’s that letting go of something old is the only way you can grab onto something new.