As if getting my ears pierced weren’t bad enough, I’ve gone and put a For Sale sign on my beloved old Subaru. Now that I have sparkly and bejeweled ears, it seems I want a new car to match, and that means saying goodbye to the car I’ve affectionately christened the Little Tank.

I’ve long known that it’s time to move on to a new car. Little Tank runs great, but she has a whopping 244,000 miles on her, and she can’t run forever. In the fall, I vowed to milk one more winter out of LT, then I’d look for a replacement. So now that it’s spring, I’ve been spending time oohing and ahhing at the new models at my local Subaru dealership. As much as I love Little Tank, the thought of a Brand New Car with a CD player, properly working heater, fully functional power windows, and warranty sounds oh-so-alluring compared to LT’s cassette player, temperamental heater, busted passenger-side window control, and aging engine.

Over the years, Little Tank and I have been through a lot together. The picture at right shows the tarp-and-tape job my ex-husband did on LT’s rear window when he managed to get rear-ended the day we separated. We had bought Little Tank used for $3,000 dollars a few years earlier, when she had “only” 129,000 miles on her; immediately, she became “my” car, one that fit my body as I drove endlessly to and from the various colleges where I patched together my career as an adjunct instructor.

When my ex-husband and I separated in August of 2004, it seemed natural that I’d end up with the Little Tank, a car I’d grown to love. Since we had only one car, my ex took Little Tank to Vermont to find an apartment and an inexpensive used car for himself; he came home with keys to his new life and a smashed rear-end for mine. At the time, that shattered rear window felt like an apt metaphor for my psyche. My ex-husband was leaving with a new-to-him car, and I was left in Keene with a car whose plastic “window” whistled in the wind. I’d never negotiated major automotive body-work; I’d never even owned a car in my own name. Driving around with a tarp-and-tape job for the several months I had to wait for an insurance settlement felt like a very public way of announcing my impending divorce: it’s been a rough ride, people, but I’m still moving.

Little Tank’s all better now, and so am I. When my husband and I separated and then divorced in 2004, I worried about taking care of a car on my own. How would I handle car repairs? What would I do when I needed a new car? Over the past few years on my own, I’ve learned that I can take care of my car just as any man would: when it makes strange sounds, you take it to a mechanic. When it won’t start, you call AAA. When it needs new tires, you buy them. Now that I’m in the market for a NEW car (my first!), I’m realizing that a woman can buy a car just as smartly as a man can, walking into the dealership with a clear idea of what she wants, several quotes as to what that should cost, and financing that reflects her ability to take care of herself and her own bills, thank you.

After that insurance check came through, Little Tank got a butt-job that would make any starlet proud, the bodyshop finding a replacement rear-end that worked better than the original. These days, Little Tank looks great for her age and runs like a champ, so it’s only a matter of time before some poor college student coughs up the cash to buy some new-to-him (or -her!) wheels. In the meantime, I know exactly which model of new Subaru I want, one that will say to the world, “Here’s a woman who’s going places both sensibly and in style.”

    While I’m off to the dealership for more oohing and ahhing over new cars, click over to my resurrected writing blog, where I’ve begun chronicling the process of revising selected HO entries for eventual publication. As long as I’m selling out my car, I might as well sell out my writing as well. After all, Zen Mama’s gonna have a new car to feed…