Bless Me, Altima

One thing I will never recommend in an effort to control your anxiety: buy a car. Such a task is on the list of being just as menacing as trying to date. You jump from partner to partner, dosie-doe, like Tarzan jumping from vine to vine. Where you stop, nobody knows.

To some, it is simply a means of passage. A point to find themselves, or just to get yourself out there. It is window shopping, something to tantalize the senses, like walking up and down the aisles of Costco, trying out a sample, or six, of the orange chicken, before finally settling for broccoli beef two sample corners up.

Then there are some that are all about the process. The hunt. For the perfect date, the perfect car. They have their specs on what they would like in an ideal candidate.

They must be from Bangladesh, and have a nice relationship with their mother. I mean, both are rare instances. Such a phenomenon would warrant passing by a unicorn or two before finally meeting someone, or your next big purchase, who/that such standards.

And somewhere in between, there I lie, amidst a sea of Craigslist ads, scouring, looking for something that pops out. No goals. I am more serious than a window shopper, but not in a rush to buy a car. Yes, I need it for work; but when I am rushed, I tend to make mistakes. I am not spending $5,000 for the sake of urgency and desperation. In my history of relationships, and in vehicles, I tend to attract the broken. The fixer-uppers that, after months of hard work, I find myself with an accomplished project.

Only with my recent relationship, I accidentally discover my ideal candidate. The prize of the hunt, only to still doubt whether I deserve such a wonderful human being. But here I am, seven years strong, and still wondering why the hell would he want to still be attracted to a guy with anxiety disorders and phobias longer than Pee Wee Herman’s Christmas list, the one where Grace Jones got to guest star in.

It’s funny what a relationship can do to a person. Now, when shopping for cars, your partner’s thoughts and dialogue tends to seep into that already overworked brain of yours. Yes, the purchase and the decision is entirely yours to make, but you also have to factor in what they would want. He has seen me riding in about 4 cars to date. 3 of which had a loud ass muffler, or was too wobbly, or too ghetto for him to ride. The kids these days call it bougie (spelling?).

Between the past gentleman-callers and vehicles that have come and go in my life, it is the in-between, the intermission, that holds a certain power. The wonder of what the next vehicle could possibly be. While the wonder is great, the anxiety of “holy shit, I need a car before my next catering gig” speeds up the process. I only went through two cars this time. A new record.

One thing I will admit: I am the worst when it comes to asking questions. It is a process, for such an introvert, to even make it out of the house to meet a complete stranger and make a conversation over a possible transaction for a car. In the world of car-buying, you have to ask questions. You never know if you’re going to be stuck with a clunker, or in my case, another Broken man for my collection.

So here I am, strung out on the lack of sleep, still sore from rejection of two writing opportunities, on a bus, into the middle of Reseda.

When using mass transit, you will find me with headphones in my ears and a book in my lap. This was not the case yesterday (see “The Journey, not the Destination”); and it was especially not in today’s. Everything went to plan. I got on the right bus. It took me to the right destination, no high-noon showdowns for San Fernando Valley. Something told me that everything was going to work, swimmingly so.

And it did. The man is a car dealer, so this is in his trade. We drove it around, I asked him questions. Everything seems to check out okay. He has Carfax reports, mechanical checks. And the car is great. So what’s the issue?

That’s the thing. There is none. As a Gemini, I am cursed with seeing two sides. The first side sees the positivity in it all. Then, half a heartbeat later, my Dark Side, whom I call Diablo, checks in. You are nervous that it is going to come. The Great Fear of the Unknown. It’s a balancing act. The negative to balance out my equation of happiness. While I can pin my personality to the stars, this is what it is also like to have anxiety. Even in a world of elated joy, there is a burrowing sadness there. Did I make the right decision?

You can’t help but think about that perfect guy. Yeah, the one you are helplessly falling in love with over some froyo. The one who you think about when you re-listen to every love song out there and think of the way he smiles between chorus stanzas. Half a heartbeat later, you wonder when will the red flags will show up. When you learn he is a married man with a wife and three kids. Only to find…everything checks out. And just the peace, for one like myself, is unsettling.

Quite the paradox, right? This feeling has always been there. I am working on it, but this week has been especially difficult, since getting the news that my car’s transmission was shot and will be immobile, unless I spend $4k to have it replaced. I spent $2,700 on my car. Time to give it up, Brenda. Even if it is with weeping and gnashing of teeth.

I spent all summer saving up money. I had a goal. For the first time in my life, I had a muhfuggin’ goal. Like I mentioned in the last entry, I wanted a new space, to write full-time. My own Walden in San Fernando Valley. I was there. I had the money to get started. To take a bet on myself. I got my umpteenth rejection letter. The time to move was now. Then I got the news of my now-terminally-ill vehicle.

Not today, baby. Words could not describe the anger and disappointment. Maybe one day I’ll confront it in some interview, but right now, it is best to move on. Best not look back, we all know what happened to Lot’s wife.

Best look ahead, like this car that I now have. Yes, it still hurts to lose more than half of my savings. But I have a nice car, girl. A car that can get me to the next gig.

Or tacos.

Either way, the Black Mamba and I are still getting to know each other. I paid my dowry. Now let’s get to work on this relationship.


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