Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I guess car shopping is in my future after all.

Well, there goes my glee over the seemingly reasonable repair bill for the 1999 Taurus. My parents technically still own "my car", and tonight they informed me that they won't let me have it back. They let me borrow my mom's shiny newish Altima to use until I can come collect the Taurus during Christmas break, and now they are insisting that I must continue driving the Altima until summer! They're planning to get a new vehicle for my mother and have my father use the Taurus. They insist that they don't want me making the 300 mile trip home in a car with 115,000 miles because they picture me broken down by the side of the road somewhere. (Never mind that I made the much longer trip from Houston to the Delta just fine and the car has been thoroughly checked out structurally following the wreck and found to be fine.) They might let me drive it while I'm home during the summer, but it'll never be mine to use as I see fit again.

I'm completely uncomfortable with driving my mother's car. First of all, I feel ridiculous driving something that shiny and new. It's not an appropriate vehicle for a recent grad living on a teacher's salary. Yeah, it's an image thing. I know that's shallow, but I hate feeling ostentatious with a passion that burns with the intensity of a thousand suns.

Second, its my mother's, and I know my mother. No matter what she says now, if anything were to happen to it, she would hold it against me for the rest of my life. The odds of something happening to it aren't encouraging either, when you consider that I'm not a good driver, I live in an area with a ridiculously high crime rate, and students think it is great fun to throw rocks at my car.

Third, I'm doing my damnedest to become an independent adult. I've been leaning on my parents far more than I should because I found myself alone in a strange place, stressed past my breaking point, and grieving and wracked with guilt. I love my parents and there's no way I would have survived this without them, but I need to learn new coping mechanisms and find a little more space to become myself. That became increasingly clear when I was left dependent and feeling helpless in the aftermath of the wrecks, hurting and fuzzy from the meds, watching my parents fall into their old patterns of fighting and then spending days avoiding each other and seething, getting yelled at a lot by my mother because I seemed like a convenient proxy for my father and/or am just generally a worthless human being who almost never manages to meet anyone's expectations, listening to my father's detailed analyses of everything that's wrong with my mother and why his responses are wholly logical, and remembering just how painful it often is/was to be home. I could accept keeping my old car as a vestige of my parents' kind efforts to launch me into the world, but accepting the use of the newer Nissan would give them leave to continue treating me as a dependent child and would not help me disentangle myself financially or emotionally.


plonkee said...

Dysfunction sucks.

But you can afford to get a car, right? (Using *afford* loosely) In which case look upon it as the price of your own personal peace of mind something I think is invaluable.

The only remaining problem is how to tell your parents. I'd strongly suggest telling them after the fact, when you know that it's a good decision.

I find living miles away is very helpful when it comes to not caring what my parents think - every cloud has a silver lining or something.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

A brand new car can break down just as soon as a car with 115,000 miles on it. More so actually. Mechanical things break most when they are brand new and any innate defects bare their ugly head when they are initially stresses, and again real late when they are past their design life. In between (where your Taurus is), they are the most reliable.

If you plot the number of breakdowns of anything (cars, blenders, heaters, people, etc) on the y axis against time on the x axis, the curve will look like a bathtub.

Besides all that jibber-jabber, why not have the Taurus worked over with a fine tooth comb by a good mechanic, and service everything possible? Still way cheaper than a new car.

Good luck to you.

E.C. said...

Over the Cubical Wall,
That would absolutely be my preference. However, since the car belongs to my parents, I lack the authority to do so. They've told me I'm not getting it back for highway driving, period. So the goal is to find another reliable used car.

Over the Cubicle Wall said...

I guess I conveniently ignored the part where it was your parents car. Oops.

Good luck with the car search.

mfaorbust said...

Wow. That's a pretty intense knot of feelings over a car.

I'm sure that despite their emotional triangulation, your parents do have your best interests at heart in insisting you keep the Altima for now. There's definitely an element of wanting to maintain parental control, but the whole thing isn't entirely sinister.

That said, good luck with the car search! Buying your own car for the first time seems like a huge step toward independence.

E.C. said...

I know that my parents are genuinely trying to take care of me. Their motives are kind, but it's time for me to figure out how to take care of myself.

Anonymous said...

This is a tough one. I've fought to be independent from my parents as well, but it's hard when you're struggling financially to get ahead. I've lived on my own (with and without roommates) since I was 18 but "car independence" has continued to be a problem. My dad bought me a new car a few years ago. I hated to accept but I did since he gave my brother the same amt of money for a down payment on his house. My old car was 13 years old and had over 250K miles on it. I don't know what I would have done without my dad's generosity. Well, I guess I would have a car payment, which would have severely hindered paying off my credit card and saving.