I had to buy a car recently, and the process made me think of a line in ‘Blue Valentine’. In discussing how women choose a mate, Ryan Gosling says, “…it seems like girls get to a place where they just kinda pick the best option… ‘Oh he’s got a good job.’ I mean they spend their whole life looking for Prince Charming and then they marry the guy who’s got a good job and is gonna stick around.”
Much like dating, buying a car can be exciting but also a huge pain in the ass! You go into it with a certain idea and sometimes end up driving off with something entirely different. The entire process made me think about settling in relationships, and how sometimes we date a person because they have enough of the “features” that we need at that moment. They may not be our “dream car/guy”, but they get us from point A to point B. And for the moment that’s enough. Kinda like the difference between “Mr. Right” and “Mr. Right Now”.
I was originally so scared and desperate about the prospect of walking in LA that I said I just wanted any car that would get me to work without breaking down on me. I don’t really have a dream car like a Maserati (a Brad Pitt) so I had no standard or starting point. Then I started doing research, looking around and being romanced by car dealers. I got stuck on the idea of a Honda or a Toyota because they’re cute, affordable and reliable. Color is the first thing I notice on cars (but that doesn’t make me a racist!), and I like compact cars (but not compact guys) so I really wanted something like this:
I have a bit of a wandering eye, so no matter how hot the guy is that I’m currently dating, I tend to look at other boys and think, “Should I be dating him?” I’m the same way with cars. I might be driving just the car I wanted but will still look around and think, “I should have gotten that FIAT or that MINI! It’s sooo cute!” That mentality kept me stuck in the process of looking and negotiating and also kept me in a rental for 2 weeks! I just wanted a car already! But like with anything else, TIMING IS EVERYTHING. The person you’re dating and the car you’re driving RIGHT NOW are the result of where you are, what you can afford, and what you need in this moment. Sometimes the car or the guy will find you. After a long, grueling process that I just didn’t want to do anymore (much like dating), I ended up buying on a Kia Spectra–something I’d never even considered, because it was the best available deal on the lot that I happened to be on that day:
Sure, it’s cute. It’s reliable. It’s got decent gas mileage and I like the color. But will I still be checking out every cute teal-colored Honda or blue Mini that I didn’t purchase? Of course! That’s the wonderful gift that comes with doubting every decision I make.
The Kia reminds me of the guy I was dating at the time who helped me pick it out. It wasn’t the most head-turning car, not my ideal by any means, but it had what I needed at the time and it was available. I wound up with monthly payments that were slightly higher than I had originally tried to bargain. So in the end I wonder if I should have buckled and leased a Honda from that shady dealership. But alas, I walked out on that deal. I also turned down a blue Nissan Versa, which I think I would have loved. Hell, at least I know that no decision is final and I can always trade up eventually. Thanks for letting me share.