The Car or the Road?

I cancelled my car insurance yesterday. This is how it went:

I dial 1-800-INSURANCE-COMPANY and answer all the compulsory questions to get to customer service. “Thank you for calling INSURANCE COMPANY. How can I help you?”

“I need to cancel my car insurance.”

“Are you moving out of the country?”

Short pause. Oh, how I want to answer YES to you, INSURANCE COMPANY Lady. I want to say to you “Why yes of course! After months and months and months, nay, years of consistent, purposeful saving I am leaving for the open road. The possibilities are endless, INSURANCE COMPANY Lady. I quit my cubicle job. I bought a backpack and a one-way plane ticket. I’m making this happen. Why – I have no need for car insurance anymore!”

But alas, I can’t answer “yes” to that question. I am not moving out of the country. “No, my car was stolen – in May,” I hear myself say. The rest of the phone conversation is remarkable only because INSURANCE COMPANY cancels my policy without hassle.

With that, my car is really gone.

As you may remember, four months ago my car was stolen. That day, I sat with my friend on the stoop of my apartment, somewhat in shock. I said to her “You know what, maybe this day will be the first page of my memoir. It will say ‘My adventures around the world began the day my car was stolen.'” Thinking that my disillusionment with the city would finally force me to really focus on getting out, I began to seriously think about what a timeline would be for saving enough money to take a gap year and do what makes me happiest – travel.

But what I’ve found is that no one can be passionate about saving. Saving is boring. It is not glamorous. Saving is saying “no” to people. Saving gives you a lot of time to cultivate the bitterness against your immobility and the crime responsible for it. I want to save $20,000. But I also want my car.

I want to be able to leave the city when I want to. I want to be able to visit my friends in the suburbs with ease. I want to be able to visit my family. I want to do all of the things that I cannot do because some asshole decided he could take my fully-paid-off car from outside my house. And I realize the reason I feel like I want a car so much is because it wasn’t my choice, or my fault, that I lost it. And yet, to buy one, now, would certainly be a setback in my savings goal. It would be a setback to my aspiration to travel. But until that day comes, I will feel stuck. And bored.

And so, I must confess, it is really hard for me to see the big picture here. I know that to travel gives me the greatest happiness. And I know that I cannot withstand interminable days in a cubicle at a job in which I have no hope to advance. I am literally going nowhere – mentally, physically.

So which do I choose? The car or the road? Am I strong enough to make “the road” happen, without “the car?”

Let’s hope so.

My car in happier times - Road tripping.

Please, if you’re reading this and you have any advice to offer regarding saving such a large sum of money and not succumbing to an antisocial zombie-like state of mind, do please share in the comments.

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One response to “The Car or the Road?

  1. AP! First, that parking lot looks really familiar, is it that tiny lot outside of our old bouquet gardens apt?

    Secondly, I totally get where you’re coming from with saving money vs being anti social! That was my life dilemna in grad school. I hardly ever went out or took any road trips around the area because I had no money and was trying to save whatever I could. I felt like my life was really boring, and even now I look back and sometimes wish I would’ve explored more in the northwest. But at the same time, the way to get through it is to focus on the good that will come after sacrificing here and there. It’s not bad missing out on the small stuff if you’re looking forward to something better! If for you traveling for a year is really worth it, then you need to do everything you can to make it happen! You know how much you want to save so figure out (realistically) how much you need to set aside each month to make that happen. It’ll be easier to look at it from a month to month perspective, because if you just have a total in mind it might seem impossible to get there. Good luck, hopefully you find many adventures ahead!

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