My 1996 Honda Accord gave up the ghost, so to speak, and left for Honda Heaven earlier this month.
I bought it six years ago after my 2000 Corolla (which I’d bought brand new in 1999) was totaled. I was oh-so-fortunate back then, the proceeds from my crushed and crumpled Corolla just exactly covered the cost of the Accord, so I haven’t had a car payment in about ten years. Now, at a time when I’m both out of work and out of savings, I needed a new car, and I needed a way to finance it.
I should say, I’m actually underemployed, not unemployed. I work part-time and knew I would barely make enough to scrape by with a car payment and the higher insurance cost. Up to this time I’d been modestly comfortable with my limited income in that I haven’t struggled to pay my bills or purchase food. That would change. The loss of my Accord meant more than just losing a vehicle, I was losing a lifestyle, as modest as it was. Finding a new job has been incredibly difficult for me, and I didn’t expect that tide to turn immediately.
I didn’t relish the thought of going back to where I was before I got this job. There were days, weeks even, when I’d be stuck at home because I didn’t have enough money to put gas in my car to go anywhere. I barely had enough to buy essentials such as toilet paper and laundry soap. I gave up cable TV a long time ago, although right now I can afford Netflix — most months. So now, even though I’m working, my expenses would go up radically (given my limited income to start with) and I’d be back where I was a year ago. Scary, depressing.
Looking into what was out there was exhausting and I proved to be a car salesman’s dream customer, someone who just wants to get the deal done and drive off in her new — or used — car. Fortunately, I had a co-signer with a stake in this who put the brakes on and forced me to ask around to make sure I was getting the best deal possible. I hated every second of it and more than once tried to tell him I just wanted to take the deal and get it over with, but he wouldn’t do it.
It isn’t easy when you know one of your inherent characteristics may lead you to be taken advantage of by someone trained to do just that. I had to tell myself, be thankful there’s someone willing to show you how it’s done by taking the time to do it himself. Sit back and relax. Get a good night’s sleep before you make any decisions. Listen to the wisdom of someone who’s been there before you. I had to set aside doubts such as, his information is outdated, they do things differently these days (turns out they don’t). My anxiety was getting the better of me and making me look for the quickest way out. Problem is, that way out can lead to the wrong path.
Remarkably, my co-signer/fairy godmother found an incredible deal that allowed me to drive off in a brand-new Prius at a price I could afford. So today for the first time in years I found myself driving a car I can take outside the county limits, because I don’t need to be within calling distance of friends or family when (not if) it breaks down. The maintenance agreement even covers oil changes for two years. My costs have gone up and gone down at the same time, although on the balance they do remain higher.
The remarkable end to what seemed like an impossible situation — finding a car when I had no credit and a limited income — has given me the courage to search for a job more appropriate to my education and experience. I’ve been held back by legitimate barriers, too complex to describe here, but the time may have come to knock them down. I’ll wait a few months so I can make at least one trip to see my mom, who lives a day’s drive away. Of course saying that almost certainly guarantees a job opportunity too good to pass up will come my way sooner. I can only hope.
I’m not motivated by New Year’s Resolutions. No surprise there, most people aren’t.
No surprise what does motivate me either: trying to impress someone important to me is always a big one. Problem is, that comes and goes. Here’s the reason that actually works: finally realizing my life is truly better and I’m going to attract better things when I do things the right way. And typically it has taken failure in my life, and some humiliation, to get to that realization.
My friends say, oh, we each worry about those things a lot more than others do. After all, we have to live with our own failings, our stupidity, our repeated efforts to resolve what’s gone wrong with yet one more foolish gesture.
Right now I’m faced with what seems to me to be huge failure brought on by circumstances I had no control over. Wisdom from others tells me to learn to control what I can and live with what I can’t, but what I can’t control has taken over and felled me. Now I need to stand up and return to where I was only a short time ago. But will I fall again? Probably. That which I do not control will always be with me, and I fear that those I care about will leave me.
So I must do what I can to perhaps ward off the beast that follows me everywhere for longer than before. I must learn from this and pray I have another chance that will allow me to succeed. I weep at the thought I won’t, and realize I now have little control over that, but in and of itself there could stand a truth I need to learn. Truth that belies what I have held so dear for so long.
I face difficult yet not insurmountable odds. I tell myself I can take advantage with hard work and fierce resolve, with fortitude and purpose. No trite quotes for me, but strength of mind and character prevail. This year was better than last. I can’t guarantee next year will be better than this, but I’m hopeful it will be.