This is the latest in a series of posts about a road trip to New Orleans that starts here.
Finally, I will shut up about my car, I promise. I got to the garage, met Tracy, who was a woman, and after I paid the bill she flagged down a guy to lead me to my car.
“Honey,” she called out to him, “Will ya’ll show this here Miss Anne where her PT Cruiser is?”
Thankfully the guy got it. “Ya’ll got a Mini Cooper, right? Ya’ll insulted she called it a PT Cruiser?” he laughed.
“I’ve never been so insulted!”
In my opinion, PT Cruisers are novelty cars for retired people who really want a Sports Utility Vehicle (SUV) but can’t admit it. The PT Cruiser allows them to drive a giant gas-guzzling vehicle and pretend they’re quirky and eccentric. Despite the fact that I was getting all-new spark plugs, I still affirm that the Mini is a finely-engineered vehicle. And mine was nine years old, after all.
I raced back to the B&B, parked the car in front, and parked myself in the courtyard under the Kumquat tree with a book and a glass of wine. Molly texted to ask if I wanted them to come join me. “no enjoy yourselves and take your time.” If there was something called a “sub-text,” I would have typed, “No! Stay away! I need to be alone!”
This is how you know if you’re an introvert or an extrovert. It’s not about whether you like people or parties or crowds, or have a lot of friends. It’s about what you do to recharge when you’re drained. I’m an introvert, because as much as I love my friends and parties and crowds, I just want to be alone when I’ve been through a stressful experience.
So I sat under the Kumquat tree for hours. I was reading Memoirs of a Geisha, and I hadn’t expected it to be so fascinating. How accurate was it, I wondered? I would never dream of asking my sister-in-law Akiko, who has a PhD. I think she would be horrified that I would think she knew anything about geishas.
Hours later, Lynn, Christine, and Molly strolled in and I was happy to see them.
“Why was I so stressed about a stupid car?” I wondered out loud.
“Because you didn’t know if you’d get here,” Christine said.
“You’re emotionally attached to it,” said Lynn. “I had a Mazda Miata convertible that was my baby. When we moved to Scotland I finally sold her because I could only drive her once a year. When they took her away I cried!”
“It was five hundred and fifty bucks!” Molly chimed in.
When I was in my 20s and 30s, an unplanned $550 expense would have been a disaster. I would have had to borrow money from my mother, or put it on a credit card. I would have had to cut back on some other essential item, like food or cigarettes or beer.
Slowly, slowly, I’ve worked my way out of debt and into financial safety. If I had worked for Wells Fargo this would have gone a lot faster, but I’ve always worked for charities. Like I’ve written before, you can work for a nonprofit and have a good life, if you’re very, very careful about your spending. Saving, even small amounts, is super important too, because the interest eventually piles on and one day you look at your balance and think, “Whoa! How did it get so big!” Of course it can go down, too, if you’re invested in the stock market, so don’t look at it when the market’s down, and whatever you do, don’t sell at the bottom.
Sorry, I go off on tangents, I know.
You may be wondering if New Orleans is an expensive destination, and I think the answer is no, if you can find reasonably-priced accommodation. They’re still rebuilding since Hurricane Katrina, so there’s a housing shortage. Plan way ahead, especially if you’re going during a festival. If you can gather a group of friends together and split the cost four ways, it’s very affordable. And more fun.