When I think about how I've spent my adult life, I'm very thankful that most of it has been car-independent. (Auto-autonomous?) Living in New York City may have relegated me to dingy subway cars, plodding buses, and daredevil cabs, but in all cases I was spared the expense of oil changes and tire rotations. And someone else always did the driving.
That all changed when my marriage ended and I moved 10 miles away from my children. I knew then that I would always back to my kids as quickly as possible, as often as possible, and I sure as hell wasn't going to bring them all the way back to my place on public transport. I needed my own wheels.
So I bought my sister's '99 Honda Civic, which was the perfect city car. Unassuming enough not to attract thieves' or vandals' attention. Small enough to wedge into cramped parking spots. And reliable enough to exceed 150,000 miles without needing much more than customary maintenance.
Over the next three years, that little car was invaluable. I used it all the time to bring the kids back to our old neighborhood for Little League games, playdates, and pancakes at our favorite diner. I took them to school down the manic West Side Highway (which scared the shit out of me ever since I saw a dude doing 40mph and working a crossword puzzle on his steering wheel). I drove them north to see their grandparents, and south to see their cousins.
But it's most important asset was intrinsic. When I felt most separated from the family I still so deeply mourned, just knowing it was parked out front and ready to take me to my kids, under my own steam, helped bridge that gap.
Cut to: May 2012. While driving back from the airport after Mom 2.0, the Civic had a catastrophic event. The water pump failed, which stripped the timing belt and caused the engine to overheat. Now, the engine has no compression, and a rebuild will cost more than I paid for the car.
Not only was I saying goodbye to the car that helped me weather the worst storm of my life, but I needed new wheels in a hurry. (Moxie chauffeured me to the grocery store a couple of times, but that was an untenable model.) So I called my Honda people, who sponsored Dad 2.0 and whom I'd just seen in Key Biscayne, and asked if they had any short-term solutions.
The next day, this arrived in my driveway:
That's right. Elton might have been taken to the pilot, but they brought the Pilot to me.
No money changed hands. I merely called for help, and they responded. This post is in no way sponsored; it's just a solid in turn for a solid. It makes me happy to have driven Hondas for 30 years, and it made the decision to lease a new CR-V all the easier.
So now I've got my new wheels, the first new car I've ever owned. It seems really strange. If, on the day I graduated college, I had asked the universe to tell me when I would own my first new car, I'm not sure I would have expected the answer, "25 years from tomorrow."
The CR-V is much better suited to Michigan winters and growing boys with growing entourages. The next step is to find a resting place for the Civic, whose loss I feel more deeply than I expected to. I hope to donate it to charity, because I know if someone decides to invest in her, she's got a lot of life left. If you have any donation suggestions, please leave them in the comments.
Thanks, Honda, for helping me out of a tight spot. And double thanks for sending me such a tricked-out model to spoil my kids with. When they saw that my new CR-V doesn't have a rear DVD player, they were truly pissed.