A Convertible Love Story: Me and My Mazda Miata
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because sometimes impractical choices are the best choices.
By Kristina Wright
Kristina Wright lives in Virginia. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, Narratively and Cosmopolitan.
Before I met my husband, I fell in love. It was an impossible kind of love, a case of the wrong place and the wrong time. A cute little two-door convertible. You know the type. A Mazda MX-5 Miata. Did I mention it was small? Tiny. The trunk wouldn’t hold a full-size suitcase. The commercial was what hooked me. It was 1989 and I was single and living in Florida. Much as I would’ve loved to own that sleek little roadster, I already had a car, one that was just 2 years old. I sighed every time I saw the ad, but resisted.
I fell in love the following year, with a guy this time, and we married after a whirlwind courtship. I moved to Virginia. We were that young-newlywed kind of poor — he was in the Navy, I was working retail. We ate ramen and mac and cheese, and played a juggling game with our finances. Date nights were long drives and watching Wings and Northern Exposure. We lived in an apartment that hadn’t been remodeled since the 1970s, with a harvest-gold refrigerator that needed to be manually defrosted and hadn’t yet become hipster-cool. We had no savings. We barely paid our bills on time. And still, I couldn’t get that Miata out of my mind.
Finally it was time to make a decision every sports-car-obsessed parent must eventually face: the kids or the convertible.
Soon, my husband and I were standing in a car lot full of Mazdas. “Let’s just take a look,” he had said. The salesman showed us all the different makes — the Protege, the MX-6. “Practical family cars,” I muttered.
I kept gravitating toward a tiny, sky-blue two-seater convertible
It took eight years to pay it off. I found a good mechanic and asked him how long I could conceivably keep this car. He shrugged and said, “Take care of it, honey, and you might need a new engine one day, but it’ll last forever.” And so we stayed together, me and my Miata.
Then I got pregnant with my first son. By my third trimester I couldn’t get in or out of the Miata without feeling like an upended turtle. When I got pregnant the second time, I relegated my car to the garage. I missed it. It felt like a part of me was slipping away.
Three years later, it still feels like an impostor. Sometimes I do too.
Miatas aren’t kid-friendly, but I hung in there — driving my husband’s truck whenever I had to take the kids somewhere and trying not to weep when I saw him drive off in my blue baby. Finally it was time to make a decision every sports-car-obsessed parent must eventually face: the kids or the convertible.
I drive a practical family mobile now. A roomy SUV with a DVD player and heated seats. Three years later, it still feels like an impostor. Sometimes I do too. I’m not the same person I was when I drove my dream car off the lot 23 years ago.
But I’m still impractical. The Miata sits parked in the garage, gathering dust. Not long ago, I found mice nesting in the trunk. Once in a while, though, I take it out. I crank up the radio, drop the top and zip around my suburban town like it’s 1992 — and remember what it felt like to be young and in love.
- Kristina Wright, OZY Author Contact Kristina Wright