On Cars, Vacations, and The Constant Uncertainty of Living Correctly

It’s been said that when you hit your forties and you’re settled down with a kid or two, nothing much happens to you anymore.


 Oh, you might take a trip, like we did to Florida in April, or buy a house, which we haven’t and may never do. But barring any illnesses or misadventures, it’s a quiet, settled routine we’ve achieved.
We did buy a used car to replace the 11 year old Corolla, whose repair costs were getting larger and more frequent by the year. Eventually, a little math suggested a payment for a newer car would equal to or less than the annual cost of repairs. Or maybe a little more. I’m shit at math. Still, I got a decent amount for the trade-in and ended buying a 2009 Mazda 5 GT.
You may only see the front.
It’s a little more updated in terms of technology than the Corolla, which didn’t even have power windows.Then again, my first car, a hand me down 1988 Pontiac Sunbird, didn’t have a window that rolled all the way down. Onwards and upwards for me then.
It has a Bluetooth connection for those important, 30 second “Can you get milk?” calls on the way home from work. It has power windows, a remote starter, and a sun roof, not to mention leather seats with the arse warmers. The in-dash six CD changer forced me to go down to the basement and find what CDs I had left. I can tell you that in 2000, I was listening to Wilco, Joel Plaskett, Ben Folds, Johnny Cash, and the Clash. I’m still discovering secret compartments to hide things.
I had actually been looking for the replacement for the Corolla for some time but always assumed it would be another Toyota, probably a Matrix or a Yaris as we knew we wanted a hatchback. But my cousin, who came to my wedding last summer, drove a Mazda 5 and it planted a seed. Eventually a mental Venn diagram formed in my head with the Mazda 5 appearing the shared section among Cars That I Want, Cars That Are Practical, and Cars That I Can Afford.
Anyhow, I like it a lot, even if it is a little noisy on bumpy roads. Retiring the Corolla was done quickly, in the end. It was only after it was gone that I realized that car represented the last bit of my New Brunswick life that has stayed with me since moving here ten years ago. It was the first car that I had purchase on my own and it was my late brother-in-law who sold it to me. When I was clearing my things out of the car, I found his business card and put it somewhere safe.
Ten years. I’ve been up here ten years. Every now and again, we get serious about moving to New Brunswick to be closer to family but despite a number of job interviews, it just never happens. At one point, I interview for a position, didn’t get it and then was called again about the same position as they hadn’t realized they’d already interviewed. But focusing on the move back has proven to be a distraction from our present lives and we often feel as though we don’t truly live here.
So we’re making friends with the neighbours, volunteering for things, and getting James involved in more activities. We’ve unpacked the figurative suitcases and canceled the actual Indeed.ca job alerts.
I never decided if I wanted to live in the city and vacation in the country or live in the county and vacation in the city so we live in the suburbs and vacation in Florida.
Last month, we went to Florida for surprise week’s vacation. My parents had a condo rental that was going unused in Daytona Beach so it was given to us. Daytona is a NASCAR and spring break kind of a town so it’s not really a place we would have chosen on our own. But after the winter we had, it was just nice to see palm trees.
We managed to get in a day trip to Disney World. I had been there once, when I was nine years old so it was nice to go back and see what’s changed and what’s the same. The Jungle Cruise is the same un-pc attraction its always been but the Buzz Lightyear ride was pretty cool. So, we took our kid to Disney World. We’ve done our jobs as parents, I guess.
And now when James throws a tantrum or whines about how unfair life is, I just pull the old “Yeah, your parents who take you to Disney World are terrible.” We plan to ride that one well into his high school years.
The thing that impressed our son the most about Disney? The monorail. He even asked for a souvenir of it when we left. If that’s all it takes to impress the guy, I would have just taken him to Seattle.
Florida as a state is pretty interesting. People are generally friendly and chatty and you see why so many people retire there. Then you see ads for places where you can pawn your gold and buy a gun, or divorce lawyers who who only take male clients and it all hints to something darker. The local news tends to support the state’s recent unsavoury reputation.
Still, if you’re ever in Daytona Beach, I recommend Dancing Avocado Kitchen as a nice, non-chain place to eat if you like vegetarian fare and craft beers.
This summer we leave for the UK for two weeks. This will be the first time since we started going there together that we’re not heading straight for Scotland as soon as we land at Heathrow. This time, we’re spending two nights in London, two nights in Weston-Super-Mare where Kerry partially grew up and two nights in Edinburgh before spending the rest of the trip with the in-laws in Langholm.
There will also be a trip to Cheddar. I intend to eat a lot of caved aged cheese.
In fall, our wee lad starts kindergarten. Over the summer, he starts soccer and in fall, Beavers. So between the soccer, swimming, minivans, and Beavers membership, and trips to Costco, we’re pretty much living the West Island Anglo stereotype.
So are we doing things right? Who knows?

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