When I was in my teen years, in the mid-to-late 80s, my friends and I spent a decent amount of time driving around the city nearest to home. Sometimes we had a destination in mind (pool hall! mall! movie theatre!) but sometimes we just meandered around the many one-way streets until we got close to curfew, and then we headed home.
On one particular occasion, with my boyfriend of the time behind the wheel, I caught a glimpse of the most beautiful car that I had ever seen. It looked almost exactly like this:
A 1988 Mustang. If it were possible to swoon while sitting down, I would have swooned all over the place.
That car eventually became an obsession for me – we’d be out driving and spot it (because, come on, how could you miss it??) and we’d just. .. follow it. For as far, and as long, as we possibly could. The good news is that my boyfriend at the time loved that kind of ‘chase’ so didn’t complain.
I never, ever got close enough to find out who owned it or where it lived or any of the details. One day it just stopped being around, I guess, or maybe I moved away? Whatever – it just dropped out of my life other than sticking firmly in my memory.
But my obsession with Mustangs had just begun. I vowed that one day I would own one, ideally in purple, and ideally that very same 1988 model.
Fast forward many years and I just bought a Mustang. I’m picking it up on Monday night.
It’s not purple and it’s not a 1988. It’s not brand new, either. But it’s a GT and it’s a 5.0 and it’s equally as brightly coloured and visible and over-the-top amazing. I’d follow myself around in it if I was in my teenage years, again. There are photos on facebook and instagram.
We test-drove it on my birthday, earlier this week, and then I spent a lot of time debating whether my lifestyle could handle it. Could I drive RWD in the snow? Was it practical for work? What if we needed to move something big and didn’t have my reliable hatchback? Could I possibly keep my old car AND buy this new one? Is it ridiculous to buy a sports car in general? Am I too old for this?
I angst-ed. I asked strangers. I talked to anyone who might have some insight. I googled. I watched youtube videos. I waffled. I posted on Facebook and asked my friends for their thoughts.
No one said I shouldn’t buy it (which doesn’t mean they weren’t thinking it was a terrible idea) but a lot of people said things like, “Life is short!” and “If you can afford it, do it!” Those are both philosophies to which I subscribe but sometimes forget to embrace.
One friend said: Buy the shoes, buy the car. Enjoy the life you’ve built.
.. and that struck me pretty hard. I have done a pretty decent job of creating the life that I want – but sometimes I forget to enjoy some of the nicer things about it. I get focused on not taking too many risks. I think too much about practicalities in some ways (and I am wildly frivolous in others – I have NO problem with buying the shoes. Noooo problem.)
Another friend said: As someone who has known that you want a mustang for like, 25 years?! this is very exciting.
(I often say that I am not great at delayed gratification and long-term planning for things, but I think this is perfect evidence that I am actually VERY good at those things.)
Another friend remarked that, now that he’s in his 60s, he doesn’t advise waiting until retirement to drive a sports car. It may be his recent knee replacement surgery talking, but y’know, yeah.
The deciding factors in purchasing were:
- My husband repeatedly reassuring me that if it was a terrible purchase for me, we could sell it or he could drive it in the winter, or we’d find some way to fix the problem. (I sometimes forget that decisions do not have to be permanent, even if the ‘fix’ might cost a bit of money or be inconvenient or whatever – very few things in life can’t be ‘undone’).
- I had a work-related meeting at which I discovered someone I know professionally is a self-described ‘gear head’. She gave me unbelievably good information, 100% supported the purchase, kept telling me that I’d LOVE the car, and talked a lot about her own adventures in (way out of my league) fancy car ownership. She also made me promise that I’ll drive the car and not treat it too gently.
- The monthly financing amount is approximately the same as my current car – and the cost to insure it is only $5 more per month. So, y’know, clearly not THAT ridiculous of a purchase. (There are benefits to being a middle-aged married woman, lemme’ tell you.)
- I really want a fucking Mustang.
I worried about being highly visible thanks to the paint colour, but, honestly, I’ve never really hidden in my adult life. Most of my online presence is under my real name, I show up in the media frequently enough that it’s a non-event lately, I’ve had pink/purple bright hair. I’m still a bit concerned about parking it on my driveway (thus letting everyone under the sun know where I live) but, well, not much I can do about that given the issues we have with our garage. I’ve been joking that my 44th year is the year I give up on subtlety – but I think most of that went out the window a few years ago.
I worried that clients would think I was an asshole for driving a beautiful car. (Not that everyone would agree that it’s beautiful, but you know what I mean). But someone who works in the same field (in a different city) reassured me that the clients who already like me won’t begrudge me a nice car – and that I am not required to live a life of austerity (whether just visibly or literally) because of my work.
It’s not that I don’t believe I’m worthy of this car – it’s more that I can’t quite wrap my head around the idea that I’m about to own it. It’s exciting and bewildering. I’m an adult? An adult who can own a sports car? Huh? I do not need a super practical car? Coffee is super nonchalant about this, which seems preposterous until I remember that this isn’t his long-term dream we’re talking about. (His mid-life crisis was to take up running – I think mine is better.)
Live live live live live. Enjoy the life I’ve built. Buy the car.
And, hey, maybe some teenage version of me will enjoy following me around town like a weirdo.