“I’m crazy about the car I drive, while people struggle just to stay alive.”-Rick Springfield.
I face a couple of conundrums when asked the question, “How is married life?”. The first difficulty lies in crafting an honest reply without sounding like I am bragging. The ultimate truthful response would sound something like: “Oh, do you mean what is it like to be married to the most awesome person on the planet, someone so selfless and thoughtful that I wouldn’t change one thing about him? Hm, well, I guess I would have to say that life is beyond sweet. It’s lucky we both have jobs which require us to work so much. Otherwise we would probably nauseate people with our excessive public displays of affection.”
That response doesn’t always land well in polite conversations, plus I’m still left with the more difficult dilemma: how to find the words to describe something that is probably not describable. I’m reminded of Elizabeth Gilbert’s challenge of communicating the state of meditational bliss in the book Eat, Pray, Love : “…even the most eloquent reporters of the devotional experience….leave me behind. I don’t want to read about it; I want to feel it.” Even the best writers can fall flat when attempting to articulate emotions which surpass happiness and leave exhilaration in a cloud of dust.
I find myself with similar challenges in humility and appropriate verbalization when asked the question, “How do you like your new car?” While I certainly do not want to imply comparisons of driving my new Lexus to my amazing husband or to other people’s transcendental experiences, I definitely have been struggling to feign a coolness that belies the fact that I am giddy with excitement. “Oh, do you mean what is it like to experience the one vehicle I’ve been dreaming about since I started working at Lexus 11 years ago, the exact same car I would drive if I were a gabillionaire like Oprah?”
The Lexus GS350 might even be the idea of the car I was craving as far back in 1989, when I bought my brand-new Mazda 323. That small red sedan, while nice and reliable, also left me constantly lamenting the microscopic exhaust pipe that poked out from beneath the rear bumper. Each time I approached my car, I caught sight of it and the word “lame” popped into my head. I felt like the tiny tailpipe told the whole world that the horsepower in my car was less than most people’s IQ. Even then, I dreamed of a flashy exhaust system, one that alluded to a performance vehicle which could easily lure me into driving like a jerk, peeling out from every stoplight as if my life depended on winning a race with the person sitting in the next lane.
I won’t even try to discuss whether or not I deserve to drive this car, because I suspect that I do not, and because it is not my place to determine my own worthiness. While I can say I deserve an amazing husband like Kevin, and I might even deserve to one day encounter a brush with nirvana, somehow it feels like pushing my luck to ask for the chance to drive a car that retails for more than most people make in a year. Granted, I wouldn’t be able to drive it if I didn’t work for the dealership, where they were able to take all of the end-of-year incentives, rates and discounts, stir them into a pot, and simmer on low for 4 days until they found a number that matched my current car payment. AND it is a lease, which is always a path to being able to drive a nicer car than one could normally afford. But still, I find myself a little embarrassed to talk about it, much in the same way I am reticent to discuss my marriage, which may be the closest thing to perfection I’ve known in my entire life.
The truth is, I want everyone to be able to experience these things, but I know that life is about choices. While some people have more opportunity than I do to live in a fancy house, and I have more opportunity than others to drive a fancy car, the amenities of our American culture are offered to people in a subtle mix of luck, karma, hard work, timing, priorities, innate skill, connections and personal taste. The best I can do is to demonstrate gratitude, and not take the blessings for granted. I have to show Kevin every day that I appreciate him. I have to appreciate the dealership position that allowed me the chance to drive this dream vehicle. I have to work hard every day to merit the comforts in my life, knowing that it is a random combination of circumstances that led me to this 3,800 lb masterpiece of automotive styling in black/black. And finally, I need to craft a response to the question-“How do you like your new car?” that hints of an honest answer without making me sound like a tool.
So, I’ll keep it simple and say that I love the new Lexus very much. I enjoy the S-flow feature which envelopes the driver in the perfect climate. I relish the 306-hp engine that roars to life when I step on the accelerator. I value the blind spot monitors which protect me from cars in the next lane. Although the GS is more than just the sum of all of the incredible parts, I am honored and humbled to drive such a phenomenal machine. This is one Lexus I may just hold on to for awhile.