When a Car Is Not a Car

When inspiration for writing pops into my head, it often makes me laugh. The title of this article made me think of the old joke: when is a door not a door? When it's ajar. I am shocked to report that I have also discovered a car is not a car. I have been driving a tough old truck for many years and she was becoming a money pit and a gas guzzler. The final straw was when the ABS brake module died and the mechanic told me a new module would be about $1200. Resourceful me found a marvelous man on eBay named Allen and was able to get a used brake module. However, in late 2001, Ford changed the pins slightly so the ABS brake module I ordered, did not work. More drama. At the same time, my husband was going through all sorts of medical problems. The trips to the doctor, hospital and my job were becoming a logistical nightmare.

Because the brakes were not yet fixed, I had to rent a car to give my finals at the University. I was supposed to rent a Ford Fusion. I got to the rental place at a foggy 7 o'clock in the morning and they didn't have the car. It was just too much for my brain. I said to the man, I'm going to have a really long day and I'm starting off tired - all I want is some fun. He said take the Mazda 6. I did. I fell in love. I returned the rental the next day and erased the fun from my mind. Back to reality.

I located another brake module. I brought the car back to my wonderful mechanic. He uninstalled the one that didn't work. and installed the correct brake module. More time, more money. I took a deep breath and made a decision that surprised me. I got a new Mazda 6.

I was taking my trusty truck to the car wash. She was in good enough shape to sell for a moderate price. I got in the car that morning and the check engine light went on. That did it! Basta. I had reached my basta point. Basta, means enough in Italian, and I had had enough. I sold it to a mechanic at the car wash for a song that very morning. With some TLC, I'm sure she'll go another hundred thousand miles.
In my long, involved, complicated, rich life, I have had many experiences, but this is the first car I actually love. I may have Zoom Zoom tattooed on my bicep. Let me explain to you why a car is not a car.

My first car was picked out by my father when I was in my early 20s. It was a beautiful car and I loved her dearly, but she wasn't fun. Just about two months after I moved to New Jersey from New York, she was stolen and I never saw her again. She was less than a year old.

I didn't buy a car again until many years later because I was on my operatic journey, singing all over the world. Now I needed a strong 4 X 4 truck to help me and my husband with the houses we were buying and flipping and our construction company. Enter the 2001 Ford Explorer a tough old truck, who in many ways reminded me of me: no matter what, it kept going.

It didn't have style or handling. It wasn't built for that. How ironic it is that someone who loves to drive, didn't have a car that handled beautifully. I really love to drive. I drove tremendously long distances in Florida from the time I was 16. I put over 20,000 miles on my father's Volvo in one year. The minute I stepped into the Mazda 6 rental, I knew this car was fun to drive; I felt like I had stepped into Cinderella's coach. I never understood why somebody would live in a ramshackle house and spend all their money on a beautiful car. I didn't know any better. Now I get it, this new chariot has changed my outlook on life.

I didn't realize how many times I said no to invitations; definitely socially, but often for business as well, because I didn't want to put any more miles on the truck. I needed to make it last as long as possible to get back and forth to my job, an 80 mile round trip. What have I discovered?

I discovered I haven't been walking my talk. I often say to my coaching clients; Your life is in your hands, what are you going to do about it? Did I realize how literally my life, and perhaps other people's lives, were in my hands? No. I didn't see it. I certainly never thought of my comfort or pleasure. It was all about taking care of others and being practical. Not only didn't I realize I was at the bottom of the to do list - most of the time, I wasn't even on the list!

This simple action of getting a car has changed things. I have a car that's new and safe. I say yes to invitations. I deserve to have fun while I'm driving. I deserve to enjoy the beauty of a new car. It truly feels like this sleek, sexy beast gives me permission - I've given myself permission - to ask for, and get, precisely what I want for the first time in my life. Who knew four wheels, sleek lines and beautiful handling could do so much?

This beautiful little car is not a car. It's a passport to fun and a shift (pun intended) in the way I look at my life - so you see, it's true, sometimes a car is not a car.