This morning was the first day we broke our car(dinal) rule, which was to only be using one of the two cars at any given time. While Sarah was already gone for work,  in a rainy, snowy slush I decided rather than haul Isabelle four miles in her bike trailer or on the back of my Surly Big Dummy, I’d zip her over in the car. I won’t call it defeat, but perhaps a brief transgression. I’ll be picking her up via bicycle, I promise.

What this really got me thinking about, on my drive home, was the condition of our cars. In a previously life, we were unable to afford  new cars (now that we can, we don’t) and got in the habit of buying the highest quality, lowest mileage, very used car on the lot. I was driving home in our jalopy, a 1999 Chevy Prizm,which is rockin’ just about 160,000 miles. She’s a real beauty. Of course, I’m referring to inner beauty. She saved us quite a bit of money while moving us from point A to B, just like I ask, so let’s say she’s got a great personality.Yet, there is something about old cars that can make you feel poor and even inadequate. The car companies work very hard  to craft advertising that ensures this is exactly how I feel. But today I didn’t.

Last weekend, with all that extra time I had from not watching movies or TV or Facebook or Craigslist , I took our Jalopy into the garage, vacuumed every morsel of child and adult food that had been driven into the seat cushions, washed out sticky soda and milk spills from the interior, cleaned dog-nose prints off the windows, and removed all the receipts, cups, bags, and trash that littered it. I disproved the old adage and managed to “polish a turd”.

Today, driving home from daycare, despite the age of my car, the chipped paint, and rusted undercarriage, I was moving along next to the BMWs, new SUVs, and sporty Subarus feeling pretty good about my beater. From my perspective, she was clean and beautiful, just like all the others. Who would have guessed the value of clean transportation?