Someone posted on Twitter about getting a convertible and I flashed back to my first and most beloved car, a piece of crap Fiat Spider that I loved with my entire soul. It had been lovingly owned by some guy in Virginia for fifteen years, who had painted a tiny Italian flag on the driver-side door and who gave me a tiny box of tiny Fiat tools along with the car. Growing up in a family that tended toward big, boxy Volvos (hello white-upper-middle-class cliche and privilege), having a car that was so tiny I could touch every single part of it from the front seat was an exhilarating feeling, and putting the top down was just heaven.
I was eighteen, ending my sophomore year in college, I think? It was a ridiculous car to buy: dangerous—due to a loophole in the California import laws, it didn’t have seatbelts, didn’t have to pass a smog check, and didn’t have a roll bar; unreliable—true to all the jokes about Fiats, it literally came with a mechanic, named Giuseppe, who I got to know really well and who ended up teaching me to fix a lot of the more chronic problems myself. To this day I am ridiculously proud of myself for knowing what a solenoid is; and impractical—I was moving every year at least at that point in my life. I loved it beyond belief.
Everyone said “If you get a convertible, then you will only want convertibles for the rest of your life,” and I was like “Um, so?” It’s true, though. After the Fiat I had a Toyota Celica convertible, then two huge Chrysler LeBarons. My last last car before I moved to New York was a regular car, a blue Ford Escort. I hardly ever drove it, though. By that point I was living in walkable West Hollywood, sort of kind of making a living as a writer, and had discovered I could get boys to drive me almost anywhere I wanted to go.
In my many daydreams about moving, to Oakland, or to Portland, or to Seattle, the dreams always contain a convertible. They just represent freedom to me.