I turned thirty today. To celebrate this, my best birthday ever, I have a story for you.
When I was 17, I got a summer job and saved up a modest amount of money for a car. I was searching, fruitlessly, for a VW bus that didn’t smell like pot or konk out on the test drive, when I happened upon an incredible, candy-apple red Karmann Ghia. My stomach hit my shoes.
I’d never been interested in cars, beyond their practical applications, but if I were a car, this was the car I’d be. The thought of owning it made me want to go-go dance in the parking lot, yodel from atop the highest peak, grab startled strangers and kiss them on the mouth.
My mom said no.
She called it a little, red, moving coffin. I pleaded, reasoned, cried, and finally wandered around forlorn for a week or so. Then she had to take an unexpected trip, I had no car to get me to school while she was gone, and she acquiesced.
As I’ve often said since, when you’re a seventeen-year-old girl with a red sports car and a matching cheerleading uniform, there is very little you can’t have. I drove the car through high school and into college, replacing practically every part along the way, until a tree branch fell on the top and broke most of the windows. I was way too broke to fix it, so I sold it to some guy for $400 and fought nausea when they towed it away.
To this day, I recognize the distinctive putt-putt coming up a street, and I make Bryan stop and watch them go by. Then I wipe a single tear from my eye, and we continue on our way.
This morning, Bryan and I decided to have a birthday breakfast together, and he went to fetch our car, which was parked several blocks away. He came upstairs to get me, and as we descended the stairs, he asked if I wanted to drive. “Not really,” I said. We opened the front door, and he said, “Are you sure?”