Strangely enough, it was a VW Jetta sportwagen.

At the time, we’d been having problems. I needed/wanted a new car, and I was deep in the grips of some serious undiagnosed anxiety. One of the things about anxiety is that it often makes one a control freak- the more things you can control, the less you have to worry about.

So I searched and I fretted and I worried and I searched some more to find the exact perfect car, because it had to be perfect. And I found the Sportwagen. And it was perfect, especially if I ordered it from VW and got exactly what I wanted. Because it had to be a manual. HAD. TO. BE. Because I’ve always had a manual and it just matters because when you have anxiety everything matters far more than it should.

So I ordered the car. And it would be 3 or 4 months before it arrived. And I’d been saving money since I paid off my previous car, and I saved for another couple months. And my wife started letting me know that she thought we should move. Move to a neighborhood with better schools. Get a better house. Use that money I’d been saving for my car. Just keep my old car because really, there was nothing wrong with it- 10 years old and only 70k miles on my little impreza wagon, why not just keep it?

But no, I pressed on. I HAD TO HAVE MY NEW CAR.

3-4 months later, it arrived. And my wife put her foot down. We don’t need a bigger, newer car, we need a new house. For the future. For our daughter. But I had to have my car. Because anxiety. Because want. Because maybe a new car will make me feel like I have control over my life. And after a weekend of arguing, she relented. And I got my car.

And it was bigger and more comfortable. And it was quieter on the highway. And it was clever and smart and so much better than the impreza. And she hated it. Hated that it represented her giving in.

And that was the beginning of the end. We never really recovered from that. So one night in couple’s therapy, she just gave up and quit the marriage. 10 years of dealing with someone with undiagnosed anxiety was finally too much. And we drove home silently in my perfect car, and that was basically that. The end.

Although, that wasn’t really the end. Because the real end came a few months later when I hit rock bottom, tried to die but didn’t succeed, and finally got the help I needed to deal with my anxiety. And it was a long climb back to being OK, but along the way I learned some things, like, Who the fuck cares if I drive a stick or an automatic? Why does my car have to be perfect? Why the fuck am I plowing so much of my identity into what I drive- who cares?

Anyway, I still have the car. My ex and I joke about it every now and then. I’m no longer obsessive about it getting dirty, no longer crazy about the fact that there’s an empty bottle of gatorade underneath the passenger seat where my daughter dropped it a week ago, no longer obsessed with the fact that it’s a manual. Next car I buy will probably be off the lot. Probably it’ll even be an automatic. Because there are more important things than cars.