The title of the post is actually an homage to the first episode of the first season of “Mad Men.” I say that like I’m some uberfan that knows everything about the show. The truth is, that’s the only episode I’ve seen but there was a part that resonated with me the other day while I was driving.
Here’s where I sound like I know this show so well…
The scene opens and Don Draper is sitting in a club having another cocktail. The waiter comes over and Don strikes up a conversation about smoking. He’s struggling with how to pitch an ad campaign for Lucky Strike cigarettes and wants to know why his waiter chooses to smoke Old Gold cigarettes. After a little history and chit chat, the waiter comes up with one summation: “I love smoking.” And that is what Don Draper writes down on his cocktail napkin.
Because people love smoking. Or they did, anyway, until the government told us it wreaks complete havoc on our bodies. But I bet people actually already knew that.
So what’s this have to do with driving?
I traded in my non-mom-mobile which actually was quite a mom-mobile. It wasn’t a minivan but it was big enough that I probably could have hauled half of a football team, gear included. I was in denial. It was a bigger car than I needed because I still kept imagining diaper bags and strollers and long trips to Costco. The truth is that it was mostly me and Evan.
I downsized, but didn’t downgrade, to a Toyota Camry XLE Hybrid about three weeks ago. And guess what happened in the process? I rediscovered something.
I love driving.
Because when you have a car that you feel connected to, a car that’s fun to drive, a car that lets you feel the road, you really start to enjoy driving again. It’s not just hurriedly getting from point A to point B.
You know that quote, “It’s not the destination but the journey”? I’m going to totally bastardize that quote and tell you that THAT’S what went through my mind today as I was driving some gorgeously wooded back roads. As I was hugging the turns, I was really thinking how much I love driving. Again.
And as a result, I find that I take the long way home. I drive slower. I feel more in control of the car. I feel connected to the car. Do you know what I mean?
My very first car was a used 1989 Honda Civic DX. It was white (with ample rust) and a blue interior and I loved that car. Every time it rained, the windshield leaked and I did not love that car. But then it would dry out and I loved it all over again.
Then I sold it and let it become someone else’s rustbucket and bought a used 1994 Nissan Altima. Now THAT was a car. It was a luxurious ride for a youngster like me. Even though it was a 5 speed (or maybe 6 speed?), I controlled that car. Until I couldn’t because there were fuel line problems.
So I traded it in for a used 1997 Mazda 626. I did not love that car. I’m not sure I even liked it now that I think about it. It was a car to drive. It wasn’t even a color I liked (maroon). When my husband and I got married, one of the first things he did was make me get rid of that car. And I love him for it.
I traded it in (and took a bath on it) so that we could get my very first brand new car, a 2001 Ford Escape. And I LOVED that car. It was the SUV I had always dreamed of in exactly the color I wanted. And I was happy. Even when my dog peed in the back seat, I ripped the seats out and cleaned that sucker better than new.
But one day, when I was in a bad mood, my husband decided to take me for a test drive in a Nissan Murano. Six months later, I sadly sold my Ford Escape to a young family that I knew would properly care for it and I drove off in my 2004 Nissan Murano.
That was the car that defined me. It felt like the most luxurious car on the planet. I stopped looking at other cars longingly at the car show every year. This was MY car. And it stayed that way for four glorious years. But when a couple of things went wrong with the car, my husband (see a trend here?) thought that it might be better to sell it before the mileage got too high and take advantage of the Ford Family discount.
So, in 2009, I drove off in a brand new Ford Flex Limited. Fully loaded. I think I could have pushed a button and it would have driven itself. In fact, it was too much luxury. It was a soft and comfortable ride but it was too soft. I liked the car but I never felt connected to it and therefore, I lost my connection with the road and with driving.
Now, I’m zipping around in the Camry. I’m getting amazing gas mileage (I’ve filled up once in 1000 miles) and I just feel connected to the road again. I love driving and that’s what’s going to keep me happy.
Disclosure: I was selected for participation in the TWIN community through a program with Clever Girls Collective. I did not receive any compensation for writing this post, or payment in exchange for participating. The opinions expressed herein are mine, and do not reflect the views of the Toyota.