You Are What You Drive?

You Are What You Drive?

Terminated by your ex? May I recommend a new car?

If what you drive says something about who you are, what are you saying if you don’t like your car?

In a recent article on the notion that convertible drivers seek to be seen and umm…that minivan drivers are, well, nearly invisible, unsettled me. It unearthed a wrenching epiphany from my days driving the perfect family mobile, a Toyota Sienna minivan.

A few years ago, a typical Tuesday took a turn for the weird when I found myself sobbing in the Target parking lot, aside a minivan that was not mine, being consoled in the arms of a strange woman. I blubbered apologies and expressed embarrassment while wondering who in the hell she was and deeply contemplating “Who am I?”

You see, a mere moment earlier I had thought I was approaching my minivan, was frustrated that my stupid unlock button didn’t seem be working, had stuck my key into what I thought was my lock. The key not only didn’t turn and but upon looking into the window I realized that though the outside looked like mine, the insides were different. This thing belonged to someone else. Which caused me to burst into tears and feel like a complete failure. Expected behavior I suppose in the wake of a sudden divorce. See, like my minivan, my husband looked like mine, but his insides belonged to another, he had fallen in love with someone else. Lucky her. Leaving me to speed into a divorce, as fast as my minivan could take me and wondering in the Target parking lot, How am I supposed to feel about my family car when my definition of family has changed?

When I was finally able to untangle myself from the owner of the vehicle I had just mini vandalized, I sat in mine and bawled my eyes out. I couldn’t stand the thing because it represented a life that wasn’t mine anymore, it wasn’t “Me”. I had changed and suddenly had the overwhelming need to change my vehicle. Like in the original Rocky when Sylvester Stallone says he was so tired after a fight he wanted to call a cab to take him to the bathroom, I was exhausted and I just wanted my minivan to drive me to my new life.

The conversation in my head then switched from “Who am I?” to “Who do I want to be?” Sporty, sexy, single and a suburban mother all at one time? Sure. And since my family had gotten smaller I thought my vehicle should too. I was feeling a sedan vibe. Something fierce, but practical. My dad had had a BMW when I was little and I still remember the sound of the parking brake and the elated, safe feeling of “Daddy’s home!” I knew instantly that I had to have a BMW. My childhood memories associated it with security and success. Bonus that was also the ultimate driving machine. Just the thought of zipping around in my Beemer, accomplishing all of the things I would have to do as a single mother, gave me inner strength. Honestly, I felt like Sarah Connor, the mother from “The Terminator”. I might have even said “Mommy’s home…bitch” heroically to myself. Might have.

Oh, hell, yes – a BMW. Never thinking I would be able to afford it, never thinking it was practical, never thinking “I wonder if I can get two hockey bags in the trunk?” Just thinking “I need it because I drive this life.” As soon as possible I went to the BMW dealership, just to look and left three hours later owning a darling, sporty “previously loved” 3-Series. But what was the most remarkable, liberating aspect of the entire thing was this: The dealership took my minivan in on a trade in…for five grand! No joke! It was so filthy and worn that there was a piece of cheese stuck to the carpet in the passenger seat, next to a kitchen spoon. Who has cheese in their car? It was seriously a mess. The check engine light had been on for weeks calling out for an oil change, the tires were as bald and homely as my ex’s lawyer and it had well over a hundred thousand miles on it. And still, they took it in and off my hands, no questions asked. No one even offered me a cracker for my cheese or looked at me sideways.

It took all of three hours to leave the past behind and zoom with sporty sexiness into the next chapter of my life.

So if there is any truth to we are what we drive, life is truly too short to not love yourself and the car that transports and possibly even transforms you.

Rachel Joy Swardson is an author, blogger, single mother and BMW owner.

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