I bought a new car two weeks ago. It was a weird spur-of-the-moment pre-mid-life mid-life crisis sort of thing. I suddenly realized one evening that it had been a long time since I had done anything really irresponsible, and somehow that just didn’t feel right. So, the next afternoon, almost by accident, I swapped my sporty but somewhat reserved and almost respectable 2006 Subaru Impreza WRX wagon for a completely off the wall batshit insane 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX STi.
I regretted buying the car the instant I drove it off the lot. Not because it was a bad car, but because I stalled it twice in the process. It was literally my second time ever driving a car with a manual transmission. Somehow, in my haze of irresponsibility, I hadn’t thought that would be such a big deal, but it was.
That night I barely got any sleep. I knew I would have to drive the car to work in the morning, in traffic. For the next 48 hours, I was more full of anxiety than I’ve ever been in my life. I felt terrible. I couldn’t concentrate at work, because I knew that in a few hours I’d have to drive it again, and I’d be that guy—the asshole who stalls his sports car at a traffic light. There was none of the joy I had felt the first time I drove a WRX; just anxiety, insecurity, fear of failure.
As the days went by, though, I quickly got better. I graduated from incompetent to horrible, then from horrible to not very good. Today I graduated from not very good to halfway decent.
Coming home from work, I stopped at a stop sign and waited for a break in traffic. One finally appeared, but it was too small. I was still too slow on the clutch. There was no way I’d be able to make it. But something snapped. My feet rebelled against my brain. My left foot lifted to engage the clutch as my right foot depressed the throttle. The timing was perfect. The car launched like a rocket, merging perfectly into the break in traffic. Despite having been slammed back in my seat by the acceleration, I managed to shift smoothly into second, and then third.
Suddenly, for the first time since buying the car, I felt in control again. I was driving the car instead of being mocked by it. The joy I should have felt on the first day suddenly hit me, the anxiety left, and I remembered why three of the four cars I’ve bought have been WRXes. It was glorious.
It might have lasted, too, if I hadn’t realized half a mile later that my blinker was still on.