If you want to talk cause and effect, you should know that I always try to think of ways my parents may have messed me up.  Thus far, I haven’t come up with anything.

Until now.

My parents didn’t buy us cars when we turned sixteen. There wasn’t even a junker that the kids could share. If one of us needed a car, we had to pray that no outranking family member needed it at the same time. If by some chance the car was free, the car we got to drive was a frightening, beige, GMC 12-seater that turned social capital into toxic assets. 

I didn’t have a car in college either. The closest I came to owning one was when my older sister, then my roommate, bought one for herself. She  had only owned the car for two weeks when I totaled it on University Avenue.

And since I hardly ever drive here in New York, I’m not a confident or practiced driver. Mostly, I can’t  parallel park. 

None of this mattered until this past Saturday, when, for reasons I won’t go into, Levi and I bought a car.** Up until now, the major purchases in our life consist of a piano, camping gear, and a pair of maternity designer jeans. The car is big news.

Last night, I was certain we had made a mistake. After an hour of practicing parallel parking with Levi—who kindly talked me out of my tree about thirty times—I came in with nerves so frazzled that I started gnawing at Oreo’s like a beaver.

Even after an afternoon of reading eHow articles and watching YouTube parking clips, the practice session had me more stressed out than I was the morning of our wedding when I woke up with a fat zit on my forehead. And I realized we had put the wrong time on the invitations. And that my dress didn’t fit. And that Levi, for the first time in his life, had gotten sloppy drunk. And that HRH II herself was coming.***

But seriously, after trying to park last night I came in a bit trembly—with heart palpitations and a touch of nausea. I tried reading Louise’s post about anxiety but the screen was all blurry.

I’m blaming my agitated state on my parents.  Mom and Dad, I should have learned how to drive and park on a junker car back when I was sixteen and couldn’t wrap my silly teenage brain around the notion of consequences. 

“A car,” my dad said to me the first time I took the wheel, “is a weapon.” Last night, after I nearly ran over a frightened Puerto Rican up on Broadway, I wished my father had found a more subtle way to impress my young mind.

The bright spot in all of this? I finally have something to tell my therapist.

The not-so bright spot? Levi, I think I need a therapist.


*Check it out.

**Okay fine, it was so we could use our gear.

***None of those things actually happened. I was just trying to imagine a situation that would have been as stressful to me as trying to navigate the tail of our car into an S-curve. To date, nothing in my real life qualified.