When I was a teenaged boy, I was car-crazy. As I’ve gotten older, my love for motor vehicles has changed. And I guess it’s safe to say that I hate them as much as I love them now.
At one point in my life, owning a car was very ego-driven. While there were practical reasons for why I needed a car — suburban America is a very, very car-centric culture, after all — what kind of car I drove, how it was maintained and so on became much more important than what I was using it for.
That’s changed, as it does for almost everyone, along with a lot of other responsibilities and changes in my life. First as a husband and then as a father, my vehicle ownership has changed from what suited my ego to what was practical. So I’ve gone, at one point in my life when I was single, from owning a sports car, to today, when an SUV and a mini-van are both registered in my name.
Along with that, my anxiety over car ownership has increased dramatically. Maybe it’s because Bonnie and I still aren’t in a comfortable financial position yet, but it seems that every time I take one of my vehicles for a trip to the mechanic even for something relatively minor, it takes a month or two for us to recover from it to the point where we’re not scrambling to pay bills.
Obviously, there are alternatives, like for us to do without a car. But that’s not really a reasonable option where we live, because of the relative absence of accessible, convenient public transportation or ride-sharing. I suppose we could move to a more urban area, but that also would saddle us with a whole host of additional problems — higher rent, less living space, crime, potential school problems, and so on.
Really, I’d settle for a balance, where I can afford to keep a couple of modest cars in decent shape. And judging from what I see around me, that shouldn’t be an impossible goal for two people who work full-time making livable wages. I honestly don’t understand why it’s so bloody hard for us sometimes.