Can one preempt the dreaded mid-life crisis by getting all that sassy, flashy, carefree riding done while still young?
Think about it. Maybe it is not a mid-life crisis, as much as a deep-seated longing in all of our beings to flaunt and kick and roar at some point in our lives. It’s not a matter of age, really, but a need to feel free. Perhaps, the crisis typically manifests itself in mid-life, when one realizes that life is just as much behind you as it is ahead of you and the nasty, odorless smell of regret starts to invade your living space.
Regardless of the validity of my theory about preempting the mid-life crisis, I can check off “Owning a cool car” and “Riding into the Sunset” on my Bucket List.
Having grown up surrounded by car lovers and a series of pretty nice rides, I knew that getting MY first car would be an exhilarating moment. Surprisingly, I never had a definite car in mind and went through my teens and early 20’s being driven and occasionally driving my parents’ car when needed. Obviously, I had not come of age.
I was 27 and I had just landed a huge job. Those sleepless study nights and all-nighters at the office finally paid off and for the first time in my life, I was entirely and fearlessly independent. I had some money burning my pocket and knew there was more coming. I felt it was time to treat myself to something nice.
I must confess that my first thought was conditioned by the pressures of society: maybe I should buy myself a condo? Have my own place, make a good investment, build some equity. B_O_R_I_N_G. I was young, single and loved road trips. I couldn’t be tied down by brick and mortar.
So I decided to trade in the stationary pleasure of real estate for the mechanic freedom of four wheels. When I started shopping for a car, again, societal righteousness pressed my mind. I went to the Toyota dealership with a friend and test drove the new 2004 Echo hatchback. It was standard yes, and it was very fuel efficient. It was compact for parking in the narrow city streets, and it was unfailingly dull. That test drive was like riding my grand-mother’s sewing machine. Au secours! Enough with being reasonable and invisible. This is not who I am. I am loud and strong and damn it, I want to feel that way in my car!
My father was the one who suggested I visit the Ford dealership. It offered interesting deals on the 2004 Ford Mustang, as the new, gorgeous, 2005 model was coming out soon. The convertible Mustang was advertised at $25,000. After thinking of buying a condo, even that price seemed cheap.
The test drive was conclusive, I felt great behind the wheel of the Stang. I had the wind in my hair and the engine purred like a tiger. There was no going back. Now the big question was: V8 or V6? Given my family history, the V8 seemed to be the only option. How could I not get the mythic 5.0 engine (albeit not quite 5.0 anymore)? There were practical implications though: the extra cost of gas and insurance, not to mention the extra ten grand to buy the car. I grieved the V8 that was never going to be for about a day, then I was thrilled to get the V6, 193-horse power engine. Long gone were the days of the little 4 cylinder LX Mustang. Ford finally realized that every Mustang owner wanted to have good power under the hood.
A week later, I was at the Ford dealership, with my proud parents in tow, reading the fine print of the purchase contract. Outside was waiting the baby that I still love to this day: a black V-6, 40th anniversary special edition convertible Mustang, with racing pedals, great sound system and yes, air conditioning. Of course, I wondered who would ever have the roof up when it was warm enough to have the AC on, but my father persuaded me that AC was a must. He was right! Father knows best.
We went out to the parking lot; I was handed the keys from the salesman and drove through the warm summer air all evening. It was love; it was life as I felt it in my heart: fast-moving, passionate, free. Literally, my Mustang and I breathed the same air.
Oh, the road trips I took. To be young and to drive a legendary sports car. It is medicine for the heart. Seeing the ribbon of darkness scroll endlessly ahead of my Pony grill and smelling the warm, rich dusk air, peeled off years of mid-life crisis from my future. I have stock-piled memories of freedom and sassiness to last a life time. It is my theory anyway and my hope.
Eight years later, my Mustang is still a looker. She fires up my heart every time I turn on the ignition and re-conquers me every time I get her washed and spruced up. But eight years later, I am now that 30-something with a home, a spouse, a baby. Despite my best efforts and lots of positive attitude, my Mustang is not the most family-friendly car and I fear throwing out my back every time I take the baby car seat out. The rear-wheel drive, wide tires and powerful engine make for “entertaining” winter wonderland adventures. Forget having a second child with the 2+2 backseat.
To think I was so free… I now haul so much stuff everywhere I go, figuratively and literally. My Mustang and I were of one mind. She became me and I became her: I saw myself as a wild, untamable, free spirit always ready for a new adventure. I was loud and strong, like my black filly. With the faintest hint of sadness, I realize I must part ways with my Mustang in the name of practicality in accommodating my new, rich and love-filled life. But the gift of eight years of Mustang freedom and sassiness will fulfill me always.
Note: This article was written by my little sister. Thank you so much and we look forward to reading more! Please note that the picture is not of my sister’s car, but one I found online, which we’ll hopefully replace soon. Her car is completely black, no gold, and the rag-top is black, not tan (or whatever that is).