Sometimes I am like that annoying guy in a bro movie who never remembers to clean the bathroom and sees marriage and family as the ultimate buzz killer. Marta has been very patient with this part of me.
Perhaps it was because I got into a committed relationship really young (18) and then, once I got out of it five years later, I was scared of ever feeling that trapped again. Perhaps it’s that I really am a bro-dude in crunchy granola lesbian clothing. Whatever the cause, this “situation” means that with every new milestone in Marta and my relationship, I’ve reacted with a mix of pure joy and utter terror.
“I’ll never be free again,” I cry. “I’ll never have any fun again or be able to make spur-of-the-moment decisions like, ‘I’m going to Antarctica’ or ‘Tomorrow I’ll shave my head and join the circus.'”
Oddly enough, none of our recent milestones have given me the freedom-jitters quite as much as the one we recently passed: the buying of a mom-car.
Granted, I’ve theoretically owned a mom-car before. I drove a Subaru for years, first an Forrester and then an Outback. These cars, however, double as single-lesbian-with-dog cars, which makes them much less threatening. I took my Outback on cross-country road trips, slept in the back seat with Finn in a Louisiana truck stop, the windows curtained by a stars and planet fabric I had sewn just for the occasion. I blasted my music and stayed the night in a Christmas tree farm in those cars. I took them on picnics and to roller derby races and on first dates, many many times. I put fake legs in them:
I sold my Subaru two years ago when I left to live in Colombia for a year. When I came back, Marta and I shared custody of her 2000 Ford Focus, which she had bought for $500 several years ago from an ex. The car worked just fine until Nico came.
Then we got this little peanut and realized the seat belts in the back seat didn’t work with the carseat we had bought. My dad managed to strap it in by using all the seat belts in a crazy X configuration. Which meant the car held the two of us and Nico but no one else. No guests. Definitely not Finn, unless we wanted to be like Mitt Romney and strap him onto the room in a cage.
So we decided to buy a mom-car. And after a little shopping, we settled on the Mazda 5, which is the same car Marta’s brother and sister-in-law have. It’s more affordable than some cooler mom cars, like a Subaru or Volkswagen wagon or, God forbid, a Volvo. And yet it’s still almost-cool. It’s known as a mini-mini-van because, well, it’s smaller than a normal mini-van.
No amount of minis, though, helped my anxiety and sense of despair when we arrived at the lot to look at Mazda 5s, when we began discussing the price with our salesmen (a friend of Marta’s brother and sister-in-law who was actually a decent human being), when we then went to lunch and talked over our finances and what it would mean to take out a loan for the car.
You see, I have never been in debt. I was lucky enough to grow up in Florida at a time when the State still offered free college tuition for high school students who kept high grades and I was lucky again to get funding for all my graduate work. The only debt I’ve had before this week was to my parents, for a thousand or so dollars I paid back without interest.
Granted, the loan we got for the car was one of those zero-percent interest dealies. But the loan itself was also waaaaay bigger than that $1,000 I once owed my parents. It was entrapment big. It was buzz-killing big. It was, in other words, completely terrifying for a bro-dude like me.
And I really thought my life might be over. Until we discovered that the Mazda 5 came in black.
We asked the salesman, Sonny, if we could get the car in that color. He said it would be a hundred dollars more. We said, “Done!” and like that, the deal was done. Our car arrived from a nearby Mazda lot the next day. I convinced myself that its slick black exterior made it so much more fun-loving and free than the sky blue or dusk colors we’d been considering before that.
And then we drove it off the lot. It’s value depreciating by thousands of dollars in that single act…
And yet I had to admit that it really was quite a convenient car for two moms with a dog and a baby. The seats in back fold back and Finn fits just perfectly there. Like he did on Sunday when we all took a trip out to a nearby trail to go hiking. Nico also has her own seat. And then we’ve got one extra for a guest. Like our friend Paula who came over last night to watch old movies and eat Spanish meatballs and fries.
And though I am sad that I probably won’t be joining a bald-headed circus in Antarctica any time soon, I also really love watching movies and eating Spanish meatballs with fries. And I love going for hikes. And strapping Nico into her little carseat. And listening to music with Marta. The volume kept at a decent, very mom-friendly level, of course.