Way back when, Josh's car, Gypsy, died. And I wrote an anguished blog post about how bittersweet it was to get rid of an old car. But just in time for the end of the entry, I came to the conclusion that it was okay to pass a beloved auto-friend to a new owner who would continue to use it. Well, we're several months down the road, and none of that stuff happened. We did not sell the car to Nick. Nor did we donate it to our local NPR station.

We donated a completely different car, a 1994 Honda Passport, to our local NPR station. I'm sorry, did I not mention that I had an additional disabled vehicle in my driveway? Gosh, I guess I assumed I was talking to regular folk here, all of whom have broken-down cars in their yards. That car was Josh's old old car, the one he drove until it stopped turning left. That was just a bad CV joint (look at me, talking about stuff like I know what it means), but the thing had gone for 240,000 miles. Due to some mysterious ailment within, it wore through belts every month or so. It's nice to think of ourselves in Honda commercials, talking about our old car that went a million miles and never let us down, but this car was done. Soon after its last left turn, I sold Gypsy to Josh. The Passport sat there, not doing much, for a couple of years. It's amazing how easy it is to get used to giant eyesores. Well, for me, anyway.

Finally, I caught Josh in the right kind of mood to extract permission to get rid of the Passport. And before he could change his mind, I registered online with the car donation people. The next step was to send in the title, which took a month because I dragged my feet about getting to the safe deposit box where we kept the title. But whatever, it got done and we immediately looked less like rednecks.

A couple of days before Nick was going to come get Gypsy, Josh had a change of heart. He had talked to a buddy of his who had rebuilt a Mazda, and he had decided that he was going to fix this car himself. Now, Josh has no experience with fixing cars. Nor did we really know what was wrong with Gypsy. I mean, we had a list of things that the AAA garage was going to try in order to fix it, but whether or not those were the issues was unknown. But that was fine, because Josh didn't know how to do those things anyway.

My Joshua is a sweet, sweet man. He's very talented and capable and smart. He has big ideas. He thinks he could do anything, and I don't dispute his ability, just that he would need to build a time machine first, because no one has the time to do all the things he wants to do. The reason that Honda Passport sat for so long is because Josh was determined to teach it to turn left again. But he was too busy with his job and his band and his poetry club and also his whiny girlfriend, who has very high snuggling needs.

Even knowing this, I said it was okay if he wanted to fix Gypsy himself. Does that make me supportive? Or just crazy?

So, a couple of months after Nick did not buy the car, we were still sharing the Fit, while Gypsy got sadder and sadder at the top of the driveway. It became a point of tension between us. He wanted to do it this way, I said fine, do it, and then he didn't do it. It was inconvenient for both of us to share the Fit. It was also aging her prematurely. I was frustrated with his apparent inactivity. For his part, he was trying to save up the money to get the parts. He would get a little bit saved up, and then something would happen (for example, a diamond ring).

He was also feeling less and less confident about his ability to fix her himself. So he would look at used cars on CraigsList, only to find that the ones in his price range looked a lot like Gypsy. Cars that could crap out at any minute or that might drive happily for another 50,000 miles. At least with the crappy old car we already had, we knew her history. Should he fix her? Pay someone else to fix her? Buy another used one? Not that he had the money to do any of those things, and oh yeah, his girlfriend, now fiancee, was on his back about it.

One morning, while Josh was driving me to work, he said, "Can you do me a favor?"

"Whatcha need?"

"Can you take care of Gypsy? I can't do it. I can't even think about it without getting all stressed out. I can't think about it anymore. I'll pay you back."

My first reaction was fury. Why should I have to do this, when you said you were going to do it months ago? Why did we have to go through months of sharing my car if you were just going to ask me to pay a mechanic to fix yours? You're a freaking adult, do it your own self.

I did not say these things. Instead, I thought about the holes in my house.

Several months ago, we discovered that we were housing some carpenter ants. Despite their name, they do not build anything. They just eat houses. We treated the outside of the house, but a couple of the boards in the siding would need to be replaced. The boards had even been removed, because they were barely hanging together, what with the little tunnels the ants had left in their trip through the house buffet. So for about six months, there had been two places on the outside of the house where there was no siding, just a couple of trash bags taped over holes.

I don't even know why they let people like us own anything at all. We are clearly unfit.

So I thought about the holes in my house and about how hard it is to be an adult. To get things done, to take care of your own mess all the time. That's why we pick teammates, so that we can help each other out.

"I'll fix Gypsy if you patch the siding on the house."


I fixed Gypsy. The thing that was wrong with her was completely different from what the AAA garage said. She also needed new tires and a realignment. All told, it was about $1300. The mechanic said she would need new brakes soon, too. But I said I was tired of spending money that day and declined the repair. Then I asked Josh if he thought brakes were something he could handle. He said yes, and he did it. He also patched the holes in the house with boards that did not quite match, but it's not that noticeable.

Car fixed? Check.
House patched? Check.
Sense of accomplishment for both parties? Check.

Yesterday, this happened.
I give up.


Anonymous said...

hopefully you have insurance which can be applied to a new car?

Sandra said...

Not so much. We only had liability coverage on that car since it was so old. The tree belonged to a neighboring vacant lot, so a lot will depend on how understanding/cooperative the neighbor is.