Car Stories: Poverty Consciousness

Me and My Kia Soul

Me and My Kia Soul

As we drove home from my mother’s house, the week before my daughter had scheduled to move across country, I found myself telling her about all the times I’d survived car troubles—how even when the car in question let me down, someone appeared to make it work., to rescue me.

I’m sure that I was reassuring myself that she would be all right as she drove from Spartanburg to Phoenix, driving a moving truck and towing her Saturn behind.

As one story led into another, I realized two things—I had not had those kinds of car problems since I split up with her dad, and later, that all those stories had to do with surviving in poverty.

The cars we drove then were ancient, but cool: a ’46 Plymouth coupe bought new by my ex’s grandfather after the big war, a ’47 Plymouth sedan, and a ’54 Willys station wagon. We had fantasies of fixing up these cars, maybe making show cars of them, but never managed it.  We never bought cars.

Sometime later, we inherited a ’62 Chevy pickup from my uncle, and drove my brother’s ’65 Fairlane while he was in prison, and my brother-in-law’s ’66 Dodge Charger while he was in service overseas. And then there was the ’76 Pinto.

A major shift happened in my life when I started selling ads in a three-county territory driving the pickup, and decided that I could make car payments for what I was spending in gas. I bought a bright red ’81 Chevette—automatic, air conditioning, tiny, but new and mine. I guess everyone has to buy one red car.

After that I had a couple of minivans and now, as I find myself single and soon to be living alone, I’m driving a Kia Soul:  my car, my choice, cool and cute.

I’ll share these stories in the next few posts, tales of automotive adventure and what I learned about depending on the Universe, as well as how these cars reflected the state of my marriage and the growth of my self-confidence and independence.

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