Shopping is supposed to be fun. Unless I'm having a yucky Fat Day or I can't seem to find anything interesting in the stores, I tend to be one of those girls who enjoys shopping. I definitely love getting new things. Even a new tube of toothpaste or bottle of shampoo elicits a tiny thrill for me, and I have to confess that I actually enjoy grocery shopping-- all those pretty fruits & vegetables & endless opportunities for creativity in the kitchen. I've heard that a special little Happy Button goes off in most people's brains-- a chemical reaction that produces joy-- when they buy new things.
So why is it that for the last week or so, I have had a pit in my stomach with all the shopping I have been doing? No, I'm not going back on my Christmas resolution or getting caught up in new clothes-- we are in the market for a new car.
Every time I say those words I get understanding nods & sympathetic looks (and, of course, advice). I thought that shopping for a new car would be fun-- like getting a new tube of toothpaste, only exponentially better. It turns out that I would rather just get the toothpaste.
It seems as though our entire world is revolving around cars-- researching, crunching numbers, looking into loans, talking about money, test driving, trying to shake off the grime of skeazy car salesmen. Chris & I decided we were going to spend quality time together the other night-- not talking about cars or watching TV, but just being together. We couldn't think of a single thing to do. We sat on the couch, staring off into space, sipping our tea and trying to avoid what was on both of our minds: The Question of Which Car to Buy?
It should be pretty straight forward: look at a few reports, drive a few cars, talk to some friends & family members who are more knowledgeable than I, and make our choice. But it seems that no one can agree on what the best car for us might be.
Just when we thought we had our choice nailed down (a Toyota Matrix), I suddenly got cold feet. I don't want a car. I just want my Isuzu Trooper-- my 14 year old, 200,000mi, clunky, gas guzzling, ready to fall apart at the seams Trooper. I love that thing. Who wants an expensive, dinky, trendy little car when I can keep Old Faithful? Well, that's just the thing: I can't keep Old Faithful, and all roads seem to lead down the path of new car smells. No more throwing the dog in the back of our SUV after a romp at the beach, or hauling Craigslist couches around, or driving over curbs when parallel parking, or off-roading in Big Bear. I guess maybe that's part of growing up.
It's not just that I'm being whiney and adverse to change. The truth is that I'm scared. It makes me ill to think of spending so much-- and whether its new or used, it feels like a lot of money, when we go out to the movies about 4 times a year & buy our wine at Grocery Outlet.
There are a hundred reasons why we should get a new Toyota Matrix (which I have gone over so many times that I just can't bear to type out in explanation-- but trust me, it makes sense on paper), and especially to buy it within the next 2 weeks (yikes! Those darn Dealer Incentives). But when I just want my big, boxy SUV, it's hard to drop that kind of cash on something I just don't feel excited about.
The thing is, I want to live a life that is simple, generous, open handed & free from distractions. That's hard enough to do, living in San Francisco. I am honestly afraid that adding something so expensive just won't match up to those values. I pray & I research & I talk it over with everyone (until we're all tired of it), and I still feel unsettled.
What's a girl to do? Part of me just wants to make the decision & get it over with, so I can get my life & especially my marriage back. I can't even remember how many times in the last few days I've fallen asleep on the couch while Chris researches cars online. Nothing says Romance like Consumer Reviews or Morris the car salesman. I'm tempted to do that "say a prayer, close my eyes & spin the globe until my finger stops on my perfect destination" type of thing.
I guess, in the end, it's just a car. It doesn't define me, or my marriage, or my life. I suppose all we can do is make the best decision we know how, working together, and either be content or learn from our mistakes. That doesn't sound so bad... but it still scares me to death ;)