Today is a monumental day for me! October 15th, just saying it makes me laugh. Just as if someone were tickling me. Why so happy? I paid off my car! Today. My PT Cruiser. My silver bullet. My wheels. My five year old is paid off in full. Which got me thinking about all the cars I have had in my life, almost like a list of boyfriends I once had. I should have written them down as they are not all memorable. The list of cars, I mean!
Actually my first car wasn't even mine, it was Mom's. By the time it got to me, it had been used by every teenager in the house before me. It was a dusty beat up, maraca sounding earth shaking, pistol shooting scratchy white Rambler station wagon that clanged embarrassingly up San Patricio Avenue in spite of it being fed the finest of gases. It was the first car I drove. Totally not my own choice because I only had a driver's permit, but it was the car that thrusted me onto a busy Puerto Rican roadway, with hundreds of other cars. To which my brother Edwin, who was following close behind, later approved with a succinct,"Good show!" A comment I still treasure. This vehicle to which I never really held any deep sentiment, other than to recall its better days when it was new and it carried my brothers, sisters, and I, to exotic places such as the Miraflores Locks, the beach in Vera Cruz, or to such common places as the commissary and post office on base when we lived on the Panama Canal Zone. My use of it, no longer glamorous nor exotic, since my route was only La Avenida Central, dodging an endless stream of red lights, and zipping through a myriad of back roads on my way to the University of Puerto Rico and back.
Then, I graduated and got a job and needed a vehicle to run a thousand errands, leading Bible studies, traveling to trainings, support raising, etc. I bought a car, that had been in my face a hundred times and I had never seen. It was my brother's six month old car, a white nondescript Datsun. To say it was not fancy, is an understate. Hector, my brother was planning to buy another car and Mom convinced him to let me assume the debt and give him a couple hundred dollars and call it a deal. I didn't like the idea. I wanted to choose my own car, my first car, but I didn't have any credit. By this time I was working full time for Campus Crusade for Christ and I had to have a car. Though it had no luxuries, it did have one excellent feature, it could be coaxed into leaping my car into turbo speed relatively speaking! It had what the Rambler always lacked, hidden power. So I called upon that power for the first time on a trip to Juana Diaz when I had to climb the steep hills of Cayey. The car was fully loaded with young people as it chugged along. A passenger asked, "Will this car make it to the top?" when I nervously remembered something about an overdrive, and I pushed a button and pressed the peddle hard. When suddenly my very bashful car took off and skimmed up that hill. The rest is history.
Though it was not my cutest car, that Datsun, did the essential. It took me where I needed to go. Until that fateful day when someone stole it right there in front of my house. I assumed it would be safe parked in front of my house on a busy avenue, but even busy avenues sleep. So in the quiet of the night, someone opened my car and rolled it down the hill towards El Umbo. They made a turn when the steering wheel locked. I didn't get my little Datsun back until it was discovered sitting in front of a house making a nuisance of itself. The neighbors complaining to the police that it had been parked there for a week. Fortunately, the damage to it was limited to the steering wheel and the radio. Other than that it was intact. During that week my boyfriend lent me his car, a Nova. I thought that was a nice gesture.
Then I married the said boyfriend, and I drove a series of cars, chosen for me. My Datsun at first, then I used a boxy Peugeot 404 with no air and a cute little fan we had installed. I don't remember all the details, because babies were filling my hands and heart, and cars didn't seem all that important, except for the comfort they could provide me and the children. Next came a dark green Toyota station wagon, which my mother happily took off my hands and owned for decades. Then a Ford Fairmont I think came next, I can't remember the name now, but I only knew it was squarish and roomy, had great air conditioning, and power steering. Oh, and it was an insipid white. Finally when I thought I was at a good place, my husband decided to get another car and traded in my comfortable Ford. I was not happy. To make matters worse, we were between cars, and I was nine months pregnant and I couldn't even see my toes, and one day I was given a car with a stick shift to drive. The crisis came when I had to drive up a hill with two little girls, in the middle of a traffic jam "en la carretera de Caguas." I cried. How could I drive a standard vehicle being so pregnant? I somehow made it home, with the sound of all those horns ringing in my ears. I had Juan Daniel that day. It is all a blur now, but things eventually got better. I got his sporty Mazda, automatic, which was so down to the floor, that I nicknamed it The Glove because you basically slipped right in. After the Mazda, I got a week old Nissan SUV. The SUV wasn't originally for me. SUV's were the craze then and all the married men wanted one. It showed strength and versatility. I only liked the fact that my little people would have more room, that when I shuffled them down the road they were not complaining about so and so was getting in my space. Unfortunately for the ex, it gave him a back ache. Ha! Fortunately, for us, the kids and I, it was a godsend and we never ached at all in it! It was a blessing in disguise. I started to learn then, I needed to trust God more.
Then came the two nicest cars I've ever had: an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme and a Ford Mustang. The Cutlass was a sparkling Navy Blue. I never celebrated a divorce, and I never will, but it was the car I got after my divorce. After my Datsun, it was the first car, I had ever bought and chosen. It came with me when I moved to Orlando 14 years ago. It made several trips from Orlando to Grand Rapids Michigan, when my daughters were in college. It saw the Smokies Mountains in Tennessee and Georgia. It went to the Navy Pier in Chicago. It went to Rosita's wedding in Holland and drove through lush green farm fields as we went home. Once in a while when I see an old beat up Cutlass, I wonder, is it mine?
Then I did the unthinkable. I went to see cars with my teenage son, Juan. I thought I was only looking. I was only looking, and ended up buying a Mustang. The salesman said, "it is the only car that has its own museum!" It's true. You should have seen my son's face when we drove out of the lot with that car. It was a mixture of excitement and this can't be real. My only complaint is that Mustang's need to come with a huge red warning sticker. People don't know the mystique that comes packaged into each of those cars. People turned their heads to sing, Mustang Sally! They kidded me at work. Everybody wanted to go for a turn in it. Then my sister and her husband saw the car, and Pepe said, "So now you are going around on a white stallion!" On one occasion, I drove through a country road in South Carolina, and a group of boys in a pick up, followed me for what seemed like miles, hooting and howling! Not my favorite memory.
I loved the car,and to hear it gurgling. In fact, I would love to own one again someday, but I wanted a car my friends wouldn't complain about getting into. Mustangs don't come with four doors,you know. So I had to look for another car. By that time Juan was in college, and I took the car in for a trade, and he practically cried when I told him what they had given me for it. He would have bought it. You see Juan borrowed the car for his Senior Prom. In fact I have a picture of him in front of it all decked out in a tux. He always wanted it, but I didn't know.
So now it's me and my PT Cruiser. And that is the way it's going to be for a good long while until I can save for a new car and not borrow to pay for it. Will it be a Cutlass, a Mustang, or a PT Cruiser? Or none at all? Who knows?