the one that got away.




There's been only a handful of times I cried over a car. Once when I was in my early twenties; I had gotten in an accident in my first car, an ugly 90's sedan in bright blue, and after I learned the cost to repair the damages was more than the car was worth, I had to tearfully let it go.

I am only on my second car, an economical hatchback that is not very family-friendly. The four of us can squeeze in, you see, but with the enormous car seats in the back it is not very comfortable. I am well overdue for a mom-car, but with my car long paid off & my husband's car payment payoff on the horizon, I have been tempted to rough it in my little clown car for a while longer. Having no car payment would be nice, and I am happy to live a little more simply driving a modest vehicle.

Somewhere along the line I got it in my brain that I wanted a station wagon. Nothing new, just something safe & reliable that we could easily pay cash for after we sold my hatchback. Maybe something cute with a vintage vibe. This tiny little notion turned to a full-fledged obsession after finding a 1974 AMC Sportaboout Wagon in the prettiest shade of aqua I've ever seen at a local dealer online. Alas, it wasn't meant to be. Once the workday was over (the same workday I found the wagon listed online, mind you) we hustled to pick up our kids from the nanny's house and dropped by the lot on our way home. There she was, a glorious blue, in all of her vintage, likely-unreliable glory. Someone had come in about an hour beforehand and put a deposit down on her. Oh man. Cue the tears. It was a short-lived romance. 

Truthfully, though, that wagon wasn't the best choice. If I was going to get a vintage wagon, it would be with a little due-diligence. So now, we are taking our time, checking Craig's List, and waiting for the right car & moment in our finances to come along. With a little research, we decided that a Volvo 240 wagon from is our best best, providing reliability, safety, and a little hipster-style for the price tag we want.

So, a few weeks back, my husband showed me a listing on Craigslist from a private seller in a city only an hour's drive away from us. We made an appointment to drive out there the following Saturday. After piling the whole crew into my husband's car, my husband and I fanaticized about owning this white vintage wagon. When we got there, we took her for a little spin. She had some dings and the inside was a mess, but she drove like a dream. I started to tally all the work she needed done, what fabric I would reupholster the seats in, the color we'd paint her exterior, what we would call her. The seller was really nice, and as he went over with my husband all the things that needed fixing, my kids piled in her backseat.

It was almost as if their entire childhood flashed before my eyes while they sat in that backseat, eating animal crackers. I pictured trips to Disneyland, the park, the beach. Easy diaper changes in the trunk. Nightly trips to the DQ and, pretending that there was one nearby, Saturday nights piled in the back at the drive-in with popcorn, blankets, and the dog. They would develop their entire language as brother & sister in that backseat and when they both became old enough for a license, they would fight over who got to drive it to school. Maybe he would take pretty girls out on dates in it. Maybe she'd go shopping with her friends in it. Maybe a decade or two of sweet memories would be made in it, for all four of us to cherish. A car isn't just a car, it's where we spend a section of our lives. Maybe I am nuts, but I could see it. You had better believe that I could.

We drove away that afternoon with a list of things we needed to research with the promise of making a drive back out in a day or two, but our romance with that car ended swiftly as well. Two days later the seller called us, telling someone had offered cash for the car as-is and wanted to drive it away right there. I told myself I wouldn't cry, but I just couldn't help it. My dreams for my kids, our family, our future, felt crushed.

 Now? The search for the station wagon of my dreams isn't over. We've opted to take a break from looking so aggressively for the time being, allowing us to plan a little more responsibly. I know she's is out there, and when we find her, she'll be a beaut.

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