Last night, Dan drove home in something other than our beloved 2003 VW Jetta. He had spent months on this purchase. He had researched, visited dealerships, test drove and even made a spreadsheet. I basically did not do one thing. This is the kind of thing I would have put off for five more years had it been left to me. I probably would have driven that Jetta until it was dead and smoking on the side of the road. There’s all this stuff you suddenly need when you have a kid. There are little things, like swaddle blankets, and there are bigger things like cribs and then there are really big things like a car and maybe a house. Where is that elusive line between need and want? Here’s a list of things we’ve been saying we need for the past year or so:
- New car
- New dining room chairs
- New bed frame
Three of our dining room chairs were gifted to us by Dan’s old boss – they are the most basic wooden chair you could imagine, painted yellow by Dan. The last chair Dan bought for $1 at some recycle store and sanded and refinished. It feels like it’s going to collapse under you every time you sit in it. Our current bed frame is that metal thing that comes with the bed; it’s being held together by plastic zip ties, causes our bed to sag in the middle and also sounds/feels like it’s going to fall apart every time you lie down.
These near-falling apart pieces of furniture have not fallen apart and we can still eat dinner and sleep in a comfortable bed. As for the car- well, the Jetta had 116,000+ miles on it. She still runs, but she’s starting to shudder a bit in reverse and if we’re being totally honest, sometimes she shudders and stalls in drive. The steering wheel is literally starting to disintegrate. A couple of months ago, I pulled the visor to block the sun and it broke off in my hand. And then, when we installed the carseat, the passenger seat had to be pushed forward so that the passenger’s knees nearly touch the dashboard. It was time.
So we took a test drive on a sunny day with a friendly man named Bruce who was selling his 2012 Volvo XC-70. After, we went to a cafe patio and talked about the car. It had things like Bluetooth capabilities, a radio that actually worked, climate control, all these wild Volvo-y safety features–technologies that seemed James-Bond-ish compared to the Jetta (which, for the record, originally came with a CASSETTE TAPE DECK). Also, it had leather seats. What the hell would I be doing in a car with leather seats?
Yesterday Dan ran all over town, getting the license plates, firming up the finances. I’m really in the trenches with James’ naps right now (another story- but really people! It’s a battleground!) and Dan called at 3:30 to tell me I had to come into town and sign some paperwork.
“But I just got James down for a nap!” I groaned. It couldn’t wait, so into the carrier the baby went, spitting up promptly all over me. I boarded the train and walked into the bank smelling like sour milk (this is definitely the most appropriate way to purchase a station wagon). An hour later, Dan pulled it into our little parking spot with the new wheels and I went out to meet him, tucking James under my jacket because it was raining outside. The two of them posed for a quick picture. It’s funny our relationship to cars. The Jetta is a part of our family and our story. It has been so many places with us. I think I’m going to cry when we sell it. It’s not just a car–it feels like I’m saying goodbye to my young entire adulthood. Already, I feel a little ache in my heart when I see out front, parked on the street rather than our spot out back, as if it’s been put out to pasture.