Drivin’ & Cryin’

The very first car I learned to drive was my dad’s green 1993 Mercury Villager. As a 15-year-old, I found the vehicle appropriately embarrassing (i.e., when my dad was driving it, I would duck down low hoping to avoid peer detection, but when I was behind the wheel it may as well have been a Maserati, or–more desirable to teenage me–a VW Beetle), but it did teach me the useful skill of navigating an oversized auto, and I was eventually able to parallel park that behemoth like a champ. Or, at least well enough to pass my driver’s test on the first try, which is all that really counts. By the time I was 16, I was hopeful that my dad would gift me his van, just like parents do on TV all the time. My parents are much more pragmatic than TV parents, and my dad needed the van to, you know, drive his own self to work every day to pay for my braces (Twice even! My teeth were very high maintenance!), so I ended up buying my own car. My mom’s friend Nancy had a 1986 Honda Civic wagon that she generously sold to me for the now-paltry but at-the-time-exorbitant amount of $600.

Side note: Nancy was younger at the time than I am now, and I can’t imagine being like “Sure, friend’s kid, you can buy my COMPLETELY FUNCTIONAL car for an amount of money that is actually not very much at all, you idiot”, so if you’re reading this, thank you Nancy, Oliver was a very good car. I later sold him for $500 which in car economics is basically making money on the deal!

After the wagon, I drove a series of small cars: 1989 Toyota Corolla, followed by a 1997 VW Golf, then a 2001 Beetle (a long-time dream finally realized!), and most recently a 2012 Fiat 500. Before we moved, we traded in both my Fiat and Zach’s Cobalt to get a Honda Pilot. We figured a bigger car would maximize comfort and minimize risk. (I saw one of those exposés about Uhauls 15 years ago and have been scared of them ever since, so I didn’t want to ride in one for thousands of miles with all my stuff–I kept picturing us going out to our truck in the morning at a seedy midwest motel, the door ajar and all of our shit stolen, or us careening off a mountain road somewhere because the brakes weren’t serviced.) Zach drove pretty much the whole way here, but these days when he’s gone during the week I get the pleasure of driving this bus-sized monstrosity around. Portland is rife with parallel parking options, and since the Pilot has a rear-view camera I have been doing pretty okay at parking. Unfortunately, due to my long string of tiny cars, my Villager-borne skills are long goners and I’m a great embarrassment to decent women drivers everywhere.

Today I had to stop off at the Adidas employee store to return some shoes I impulse-bought earlier this week. I made a wrong turn and ended up in their employee parking garage instead of the guest parking lot, and I had to either have a parking pass, or make a tight three-to-six-point-turn. Since I did not have a parking pass and there was no person manning a booth to let me in, I went for the turn. I thought I was clear and on my way out when I heard a horrifying sound. The poor Pilot is now a scraped-up casualty of my clumsiness. I wish I could say she’s alone in that distinction, but I cannot. Earlier this week I was walking, which is not my forte, and I stumbled and fell, and now I have a huge case of road rash and a burgeoning purply-blue bruise. You would think that practice makes perfect, but after half my life of driving and many more years than that walking, I still can’t do either one with any skill. I’m not sure if I should get my own, smaller car, or just give up trying to drive altogether.

As I am wont to do, I bought myself a treat after returning the shoes and texting Zach to tell him his wife sucks at driving. I stopped in the adorable Kenton neighborhood at Prince Coffee to pick up a latte, and to use their dang bathroom because the one at the Adidas store required security clearance. I said I wanted something iced, sweet, and coffee, and the barista (who I think is also the owner) suggested a latte whose name I didn’t catch because I am the worst blogger and for real I had to pee. I chose the 16 oz. and it was $5 even, so pretty regular pricing. The milk:espresso:flavor ratio was a little on the milky side (oh ew that is not a good band name at all) but the flavor (whatever it may be!) was perfectly sweet and slightly spicy, like cinnamon and brown sugar (which, if the menu I found on Yelp is still in rotation, makes me guess it might be the “stroop” flavor since stroopwafels are those flavors). I didn’t try a wafel–they were out on the counter really close to where a child or even regular person might try to breathe or touch them and no thanks. The neighborhood was easily walkable and Instagrammable, so parking up the street and strolling a few blocks was enjoyable, even with my stupid aching leg.

As you may have noticed, I don’t generally wear flat shoes, and even less frequently do I wear anything that could remotely be considered “athletic”. In my youth I was more inclined towards jeans and casual men’s footwear, and I used to looooove Adidas. I had Sambas in both green & black, Superstars in at least 3 different color combos, and some name-I-can’t-remember retro running shoes I found in a Salvation Army in one of my summer Portland visits as a kid. My cousin’s husband (my cousband?) works at Adidas and very generously got some friends and I into the employee store earlier this week (hence my ill-fated return trip), and I went a little crazy. I nearly walked away with 4 pairs of shoes, but limited myself to two since I can’t even remember the last time I went out in public shod in footwear with flat laces. I scored Gazelles in both blue and red, and actually wore the blue ones for the rest of the day. I was so comfortable, I spent most of the day dreaming up ways I could marry my love of sporty footwear with my passion for pantless fashion, and I came up empty. And then I fell down, probably because my feet don’t know how to be that relaxed and just gave up entirely. I tried to wear the new red shoes out yesterday, but they were a half-size smaller than the blue ones so they weren’t going to work out, and I was relieved because you guys, Adidas on my stumpy canks is not a good look. Exhibit A: my Retrolicious shark dress, red We Love Colors tights, these comfortable-ass shoes, and Bea’s Kate Spade bag which she is kindly letting me borrow. Today at Prince Coffee, two women were like “Love your bag!” and I said, “Oh it’s actually my friend’s, so I guess we can’t be friends anymore. I think I’m going to delete her number.” Because seriously, that is how cute this bag is, I would abandon my best friend for it. (JK Beasus, you know where I live and this purse has never bought me Chick-fil-A.) I keep bidding on them on Ebay but they go for $800+ and while I love spending money, I do not love it quite that much.

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Hey look at that, I finally blogged after quite the procrastination streak there. Too bad I’ve exceeded my latte allowance (a-latte-ment?) because my treat meter is once again empty. That’s how all adults cope right? Not just me?

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2 thoughts on “Drivin’ & Cryin’

  1. Your dad loves to tell the story of your very first driving lesson. He sat you down beforehand and patiently talked about the car and the engine and how powerful you were going to be behind the wheel and how important it was to be careful and how, if you followed the rules of physics, everything would work as it should, and you would be the absolute master of the machine. Then he turned to me and asked if I had any last words of wisdom before you took this big step into adulthood, and I said: “Try not to cry.”

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