The first hint to change our ways came in the form of a bright orange impound notice from the Seattle police department. It was stuck to my husband’s 1979 Celica, anchored first by the windshield wiper and later by the rain. We didn’t really mean to leave the car parked in the same spot on the street for nearly a month; we just hadn’t had any occasion to move it.
We had entered the marriage the previous year with a car apiece. We held on to them in much the same way we both kept our old pots and pans. To this day we’re not sure if our neighbors really thought the car was abandoned, or if they just wanted that parking spot. In any event, that bright orange notice was a clear sign that one of our two cars never went anywhere.
Our first step was to move the Celica to the other side of the street. Our second step was to give it away. That was 1993. Three cities, one child and 15 years later, we’re still a one-car household.
Through the years a lot of people haven’t quite known what to make of this. Often I would get a sad smile from people who assumed we simply couldn’t afford a second car. They would gently suggest that a used car might be within our range. (Considering we drove a 1990 Corolla past the 195,000-mile mark and into the next millennium, I’m not sure how much more used a car could get.) Then came the part of the conversation where I told people that we were living with one car on purpose, we hoped never to own two cars at once, and my husband liked his daily bicycle commute. I would admit that I like walking and taking the bus. At that point the kind folk looked away and changed the subject.