I had decided it was time to replace my trusty Subaru Outback. The car I set my sights on was the new Toyota Yaris: reliable, great gas mileage, and endearingly cute. I only had a certain amount of money to spend, so I had to be rigorous in defining my needs and holding firm on all the options. No, I didn’t need the rear intermittent wipers, nor the alloy wheels, nor the special mp3 player. Actually, when I really examined the matter, I didn’t even need the automatic windows and doorlocks. With a 2 door hatchback of such diminutive stature, it’s pretty easy to roll the windows down with an old fashioned crank.
So I had this car pretty pared down and was feeling oh so efficient when the salesman asked me what color I wanted. “Red,” I said blithely. How hard could that be? I had looked at the color options on the website and all the others were downright ugly. So red it was to be.
A week later, the salesman was back on the phone telling me a woeful tale about how hard it was to find a red Yaris. He had white, he had blue, he had a red one with a billion fancy options. But no simple red Yaris. Would I be willing to compromise on the color? I felt 50 years of compromising close in around me like a suffocating weight. “For God’s sake, Narrye, it’s just a car,” I argued with myself. “What difference does it make what color it is?” But then some immovable force rose up in me, kind of quiet-like, but absolutely resolute. “No,” I said. “No compromising on the color. I’m perfectly happy to wait until you can find me the color I want. Take all the time you need.” And like tectonic plates shifting, I stepped into another world.
Stepping into this world of clarity about what we need and want is one of the many gifts of midlife for women, many of whom have spent a lifetime putting the needs of others first. Of course, when our children are young it’s essential to put their needs first. But there comes a time, when the kids have left the nest for instance, when you can begin to put yourself back in the picture. I realized that this Yaris is the first car I’ve ever bought for myself that was solely for my own needs. I didn’t think about whether the kids’ bikes would fit in the back, (decidedly not,) or whether the backseat would be comfortable for passengers, (it turns out it is.) When my ex-husband looked at it he remarked that it was “awfully small.” “Right,” I replied. “Just my size, and fortunately you’ll never have to drive it!”
So there it sits, my Yaris, visible in the driveway from my upstairs window, a jaunty symbol of authenticity and personal style. And did I mention that it’s red?