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Featured MX5 Miata!

Toni Woods

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Zoom, Zoom: The Midlife-Just-For-Me Car

Now that I am actually in midlife, I realize that "midlife crisis" is really not the right term. Whomever coined that probably wasn't in midlife yet. It was probably a 30-something who saw their 55-year-old mom decide to quit her job and go back to school to get a degree in an entirely different field. This may have looked like a crisis to the grown child, but Mom was probably happy as a lark. 

I have gone through these changes of heart, too, but always found them to be positive adventures, never a "crisis" with its negative connotation. I did go back to school at age 52 to start my master's, which I will finish at age 56 (two classes to go!) It has been exciting and fun and fulfilling. No crisis here.


So when I bought a two-seater convertible a year ago, I realized that this is what my younger self would have called a midlife crisis car. But now I know it is actually a midlife-just-for-me car. Shhhh, maybe we should still call it a midlife crisis car so we don't make our kids feel bad for keeping us from having it all these years.

Every previous car I've owned had a particular function. My first was a Honda Civic because I knew someone selling his and it was what I could afford at the time. Most recently, I drove a 19-year-old wheelchair minivan that rattled and shook as I drove it. I bought it so that I could take my wheelchair-bound mother on Sunday adventures from her nursing home, and it was completely worth it. But it was also my everyday car, and I didn't drive it on the highway because I was so afraid of it breaking down. I started taking the backroads to work instead of the more direct highway route.

I started thinking about what my next car would be, as I knew the van wouldn't last much longer. Mom's health was failing and Mia would be going away to college in a year. I thought about the cute, sporty Nissan Juke or a beautiful Mazda 5 SUV. Nice, but not especially exciting. Just an upgrade from my old minivan.


Then I had dinner with my friend Dani one night. When we walked to our cars afterward, my eyes popped out of my head when I saw her beautiful, black, convertible Fiat Spider. And when she told me she got it just a couple years used for under $20,000 I couldn't believe it. That completely changed my mindset. I wanted a convertible two-seater.

Predictably, the van bellowed black smoke while Mia, my sister and nieces were on our way to pick up Mom for an adventure. I started looking for a used Fiat Spider. There weren't many available in my city, but it turned out that the Spider is built on a Mazda Miata assembly line and they are very similar. I found the perfect Miata in my favorite shade of blue.


Now I absolutely love driving around, top down, music loud (or sometimes NPR or a podcast, I'm in midlife after all). Before the pandemic and working remotely, I even drove the same non-highway route to work as when I drove the van, but this time it was because it was a beautiful treelined drive that I could enjoy with the top down. Just yesterday, as I sat in a grocery store parking lot on a beautiful evening with the top down, a middle-aged man came up to my car, held out his arms, and said, "What a great car!" 

It is. Our family of three can't go out in it together. My husband doesn't even want to drive it. And I'm terrified of my daughter driving it. It is just for me. Because I'm an empty nester in midlife. No crisis required.

Zoom, zoom!




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