I Just Sold My Car
So I just sold my 2015 6-speed manual transmission Volkswagen GTI. I got so much out of that car. It’s been all over the US. Down to Key West, up to Montreal, and back and forth across the continent several times. I drove it in LA, parked it in Manhattan, and let it bake in the Arizona desert. It looked good in the city, and handled itself well on dirt roads too. And the gas mileage was incredible. It was an outstanding vehicle that, for me, represented a continent’s worth of personal freedom.
I thought I would be sad to see it go.
But even now, just a few hours later, I realize that car was holding me back. It was keeping me anchored to places I could drive to. It kept me tethered to highways and gas pumps, and perhaps most importantly, to the US and our peculiar way of life.
In a week or so, I’m going to jump on the train and head east. After a bit of traveling (some of it in other people’s cars), I’ll end up in Manhattan, where a car is nothing but a liability.
And then I can go even further east, to Europe, where the trains can take me most anywhere I want to go.
Like any American lad fortunate enough to have one, my car has always been more than that promise of personal freedom. It was also part of my personality.
But with gas prices spiking, and with my own growing awareness of the true costs of our over-consumptive ways, I found it increasingly difficult to justify owning a vehicle.
Letting go of the car was both a financially intelligent move, and also the right thing for me to do.
I resisted the sale for months. It’s importance to my identity and perceived freedom ran deep. But now that it’s gone, I’m chuffed. The world seems bigger, not smaller.
I know that for many, cars remain an absolute necessity. If you still have to drive, or still want to, I don’t begrudge you.
And I’m also aware that I’ve got a lot more geographical freedom than most folks, and I don’t take that for granted.
But there’s no question that for someone who cares about their energy expenditure and their environmental footprint, letting go of my car was the right move.
Globally speaking, my energy expenditure is still higher than the average persons. But I’d rather spend my personal allotment on train trips and computing power. In the last year I’ve given good about giving up meat, fish, and dairy. Now I’ve also given up my own personal internal combustion engine (and sleeping pod). And I feel good about it.
When I was 19 and 20, I went from Alaska to Maine and back, with nothing but a backpack. I took busses, trains, and hitchhiked a fair bit too. I was never as free as when I didn’t have a car.
But then cars got ahold of me again, and held me in their thrall for more than 20 years.
I’m excited to see what happens now that I’ve broken this most American of spells.