This post was brought to you by my generous friends at Kia Motors of America and their loan of a 2018 #kianiro PHEV. I would be wandering the halls of my house, making sad noises, if they had not given me a bit of respite from my car-less existence with this loan.
I have been without a functioning car for 4 weeks.
This sounds a bit pretentious, I’m just now realizing. But for someone who has owned/operated a car for nearly 20 years, it’s a bit of a shock to the system…like I know how to fly, but someone clipped my wings.
I got my drivers’ license at 17. I cannot quite put my finger on why I didn’t get it the DAY I TURNED SIXTEEN, because I had been so looking forward to that autonomy, ever since I sussed out what having a car would mean to my social life.
I wanted to move, to get up and GO. I wanted to drive. I wanted to get out and do things when I wanted to do them, instead of waiting for a friend or my parents or someone else to drive me. I wanted to be mobile. I wanted to thrift shop in Seattle, I wanted to roll the windows down, feel the wind in my hair and crank the music up. I wanted to go to the mall on my own schedule.
I wanted the freedom that driving brought me.
And I got it. I earned my license at 17, and spent most of my wages from my grocery store job on gasoline. I drove everyone to school. I drove everyone home. I picked people up from work and delivered them just about anywhere they wanted to go. I rolled the windows down, even when it was cloudy so I could feel the wind in my hair.
I got a small taste of wild freedom from my buttoned-up life, every time I drove my car.
I spent a single torturous year at college without my precious car, and felt so stuck. I walked everywhere (nobody had a car), so my world narrowed from “however far I can drive on a half tank of gas” to a 5 mile radius around my dorm room (and all uphill). When I got home from that year away from my wheels, I promised myself I would work as hard as I needed to in order to keep a car.
I haven’t gone this long without a car since 1998.
I know there’s a lesson in here somewhere. Maybe I need to just sit at home and think about my life, or maybe there’s something I’m supposed to be avoiding, or maybe the lesson is that I need to deal with my problems head on instead of driving away from them. I know there’s a reason all of this is coming at me right now.
I just don’t like it.
My world has shrunk down with the loss of my wheels. My life exists around how far I can walk. (Thank God for the grocery store two blocks and our small-sized, bike-able town, really.)
I plan my errands around when my friends can take me or the bus schedules – or what I can get done through my internet connection. Rideshare apps are only used in cases of absolute emergencies, because they are HELLA expensive.
It’s a new and different way of maneuvering through my life, and I have to be perfectly honest: I’m not dealing with it horribly well.
I may have pouted for a bit after the car broke.
I did a lot of “why me??” and angry faces. I cried for a day or two. I yelled at the car while it was parked in front of my house. None of those really help (and nobody seems to be able to tell me why the car won’t function correctly, but that’s another story for another day).
So in the midst of my self-imposed desert-island-in-my-house, my friends at Kia offered the use of a 2018 Kia Niro PHEV for two weeks. I had no idea how isolated I had made myself until I had free rein of a car for 2 weeks.
In those two weeks, we drove almost 600 miles. I drove to Seattle twice. I drove to the beach a half dozen times. We drove 30 minutes just to get frozen lemonades at Sonic. (Averaging about 51 MPG, btw. Only had to put gas in the car once. And charge it twice.)
I was free for those two weeks. I could go wherever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
The Niro had enough trunk space to fit all my gear for my very first street market, yet enough leg room that Wolfgang could sit behind me and not feel cramped. The 90mile drive to Seattle was so smooth, I didn’t mind making it twice…plus I got to listen to my audiobooks through the sweet harman/kardon speakers.
And then the loan ended and the Niro went back to the car corral and I was back to walking and biking and asking for rides and riding the bus.
But man, was that taste of freedom delicious.
I’ll get my car fixed just as soon as I can. But for now, I am spending some time at home stitching and painting and writing, and dreaming of the windows rolled down, the wind in my hair and the radio cranked up.