Wednesday, 16 May 2012

My Silver 2004 Nissan Altima 2.5S

I totalled my car last Fall.  It was a nice way to wrap up her brief existence.  The last time I saw her was when she was towed away from the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania to somewhere further into the middle of nowhere in Pennsylvania.  I was headed home to Toronto for a job interview, totalled the car, got the job, and well, the rest is history.

For years, that car was my only 'home'.  It was the only stable thing in my life.  Furniture came and went; as did houses, lofts, and apartments.   But that car didn't.  It was the one thing that was mine, that didn't suck me dry with unexpected expenses, that didn't leave me sleepless with noisy neighbours, and insane landlords.  In fact, it did the opposite of all of those things.  It symbolized opportunity for me: so long as I had it (and gas and parking money), I could go anywhere.  It was the 'vehicle to my freedom', both literally and figuratively.

Now, I was raised a commuter.  We didn't consistently have a car growing up, and living in a city like Toronto, I didn't feel like it was in any way practical to have one.  The way I saw it, it was a huge expense for just a little bit of comfort and convenience.

But some things are just impossible without a car.  When I first got that car, I had intended to use her only for weekends and trips, and otherwise take transit to work.  Then you work out the numbers, and realize that being a transit user/car owner isn't cost effective.  It felt like I had to go with one or the other.  ...and since I already had the car, I just scrapped my train passes in favour of parking ones.

I'm older now.  I've learned to share, can find cheap car rentals, and know better than to equate owning a car with freedom.  If I need one, I know I can arrange for one.  In fact, and perhaps not surprisingly, I have felt ever so slightly more liberated without having my own car than when I did when I had one.  It was like the biggest piece of baggage I owned; the child whose whereabouts I had to constantly be conscious of.  I loved her.. but..

Times change, and with them, perspectives.  I used to see not having my own car as a disadvantage.  Now I see that it is a choice.
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