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Time for a new car? That seems to be the consensus

It happened somewhere just outside of Oroville. If only I had looked down a minute sooner, I would have noticed.

My 2002 Subaru hit 200,000 miles. What I actually saw was 200,000.3 — I missed the big moment.

For a long while now I have been encouraged to buy a new vehicle. My parents, husband, daughters, friends … seemingly everyone in my life, except me. Now that it’s reached this literal milestone, the call for a new car will no doubt crescendo.

The problem is each of those miles is more than a turn on the odometer to me, they all add up to memories formed over the past 17 years. Seventeen years — that’s longer than I have lived in one home — in fact it spans three houses. It’s longer than I’ve been married —in fact it spans two husbands. It’s seen me go from covering stories for this newspaper to a Redding daily to running a political campaign in the North State to freelancing for a foundation and then back again.

Throughout it all, that Subaru has been a constant in my life.

My husband said that my attachment to the vehicle is not normal, that I am clinging to the car because it represents what I consider to be the best time in my life — a time when my daughters were still at home. He compares it to my need to care for their cats —long after they left home to attend college and settle into their new lives — as the last vestige of holding onto them.

I really can’t argue with him because he’s right. That car does reflect some of the happiest, most memorable times of my life. Driving with my daughters provided uninterrupted time to talk as we traveled to sporting events, to visit relatives and colleges, to shop for prom dresses and much more.

That car still had the dealer plates, when my oldest daughter backed into it. I remember not saying a word; just simply getting in and driving down the canyon until I could speak calmly again.

I had a similar reaction when she somehow managed to jam the sunroof into the open position just before a rainstorm.

My poor car was hit on Cemetery Hill by a driver who was reaching for something under his seat, rear-ended by a Redding driver who didn’t see the stoplight, and backed into by a BMW-driving wine purveyor in Napa.

Still, for a 17-year-old car, it doesn’t look too shabby. The people at Les Schwab said my tires are good for another season, probably two, and that at 200,000 miles, I could easily have another 100,000 miles to go.

But it has another issue — there’s not enough room for car seats — at least not as many as I need. I was always pleased that I didn’t drive a soccer mom minivan while the girls were in school, but there were only two of them. I could easily haul them and a friend each to wherever we were going. But my youngest daughter has three sons — 5, 3, and 1 (all of whom must be in some sort of car seat or booster in the back seat of the car for years to come) — with a fourth on the way.

Hmmm. Now I have a decision to make. Is it finally time to buy something bigger? Is it time to buy that minivan?

It’s also a time to think strategically. Do I really want the ability to transport four children, or am I better off limiting myself to two? I’ve always thought that one child for each hand is more manageable.

There are other issues to consider as well. I really like reduced insurance premiums and vehicle registration costs that my older model brings, and not having a car payment. I appreciate driving a vehicle that is somewhat unique, though it might be nice to go incognito for a while.

So, I have a decision to make.  I have a 2002 with 200,000 miles on it, and the 2020 models are coming out. Maybe all those 2s are a sign. Maybe it’s time. Or maybe, I’ll just wait until 2022.

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