Earlier this month I sold my car.
No big deal, you say. People buy, sell and trade their beat-up pickups and sedate sedans all the time.
But this was more than a sale. It was a milestone, a life passage. Let me explain.
At the turn of the millennium, I was working in the data communications field and riding the crest of the dot-com wave. I was a single dad and in the market for a car to replace my 1990 four-door Toyota Camry.
My practical side wanted something comparable to the Camry, something functional and safe for my 10-year-old son and his friends. I also did a lot of driving for my job and occasionally had to haul some work-related materials.
But in my heart of hearts, I lusted for a roadster.
I don’t know how many hours I spent online searching such car-buying sites as Edmunds.com, trying to resolve my dilemma.
Practical Me (PM) wanted something like a Honda Accord. “You need a car that can haul kids and groceries,” PM said, glowering like a displeased schoolmaster at a recalcitrant student.
But whenever I saw a BMW Z3, my eyes glazed over like Mr. Toad’s gazing at a motorcar. Imagine, zipping up Silverado Trail, shades on, wind in my hair, the epitome of cool. Yeah, Baby!
The Beamer was around $30,000. My internal bean-counter thought that was too much cash to spend on cachet. And a Porsche Boxster was out of the question.
In February 2000, during a Presidents Day sale, Practical Me saw an offer he couldn’t pass up. He dragged image-obsessed, narcissistic Cool Me kicking and screaming to a Honda dealership and bought a new four-door Civic.
But my yearning for a sports car persisted. Practical Me scorned Cool Me’s sulking and whining as nothing more than a midlife crisis:
“You’re trying to recapture your youth with a car,” PM said. “That’s pathetic.”
“So what?” Cool Me snarled. “I deserve a little fun. I’m not dead yet.”
Then I read an essay on Edmunds.com about the Mazda Miata. Dollar-for-dollar, the author wrote, the Miata MX-5 is a better car than the Z3. As for muscle car fanatics who look down their noses at the MX-5 as a “chick car,” they’re knuckleheads hooked on horsepower, according to the author.
Best of all, I could get a used MX-5 for less than what I paid for the Civic. Shortly after reading that essay, Practical Me took the plunge.
In the weeks and months after I bought both cars, the dot-com tsunami crashed ashore and swept away all the irrational exuberance. A couple of years later, after my boss and good friend suffered a near-fatal heart attack, I had a personal epiphany and got a job in another type of communication: journalism.
Turn the clock ahead to now.
I still enjoyed zipping along in my roadster when the sun is shining. Shortly after I got it, I customized the interior with a rosewood steering wheel, gear-shift knob, brake handle and dashboard trim.
Over the years, I toyed with the idea of supercharging the engine and installing a roll bar, but did neither. My son is grown and I considered giving him the car. I decided against it because I sleep easier knowing he’s behind the wheel of his van.
Why sell the Miata? I began to consider selling it a while back for a variety of reasons, including inconvenience and cost. I have to move my Honda, which I park in the driveway, to get at the Miata parked in the garage. As I begin contemplating retirement, I’ve begun to question the extra expense. The money from selling the Mazda could help with some medical bills. My financial reality is more real than it was just a few years ago.
And then there’s the disparity between who I was then and who I am now. These days, simply getting in and out of the low-slung sports car is becoming more challenging, as it would be for most women who might find a sexagenarian sexy.
Midlife has come and gone. The two Mes are still talking, but the practical one now seems to dominate the conversation.
“You’ve had your fun. It’s time to move on without the sunglasses and the wind, and just be thankful you still have hair to tousle,” he says.
I sold the Miata to a young father as a second car for him and his family. May it serve him as well as it served me.