(Update as of March 29, 2010: We are selling this Lexus Coupe. SOLD as of May 9, 2010. Happy Mother’s Day to Me!)
In 1998 I was visiting my husband, then my fiancé, very often in Los Angeles when he was interning at the VA for a year. At the time, I had just finished my graduate studies a year prior and was working full-time. I did a lot of on-calls at my work to accumulate extra off days. So much so that I had a nick name, or at least I thought I did, “the on-call queen.” Our agreement was that I visit him in LA instead of him returning to Texas. We traveled all over California, including Baja, Mexico. As a lover of travel, I was in heaven each time I got on a plane to head to California. Needless to say, I accumulated many, many Continental Onepass miles in the year 1998.
During one of those trips to LA, one of J’s friends met us for dinner. Although I do not remember where and with whom we went to dinner, I remembered that his friend was driving a brand new Lexus Coupe SC 300. I thought to myself, wow, what a beautiful piece of machine and wondered what it was like to own it. Did people accept him more as a person? Were they impressed? What’s it like to have that status symbol in driving a Lexus? Surely, you have also heard the little voice inside our heads when we long to have something we don’t have already? Yes, in my late twenties or was it early thirties, but ah heck who’s counting, I used to imagine and day-dreamed what it was like to be behind the wheel of a Lexus Coupe SC 300.
Years go by, life goes on, we bought and drove Hondas and were content with each of them. In 2007 while I was still working at a local non-profit agency, one day I returned home earlier than my husband expected. I usually worked long hours and coming home at 5 pm was out of my usual routine. As I drove up to our new town home which we just bought a few years prior, I saw a beautiful shiny Red Lexus Coupe SC 300 being unloaded. Took me a while, but I finally added 2 and 2 together and realized that the car was ours, mine- A 1998 model in near mint condition. To buy the Lexus, my husband sold my 2003 White Civic Sedan which I was perfectly happy with- we got good gas mileage, a nice, comfortable economical car, i had no complaints whatsoever.
Here’s the real truth about owning this dream car of mine.
- Each day I drove it to the non-profit agency where I worked I felt very guilty. I suppose I was feeling guilty because deep down I was uncomfortable.
- Uncomfortable with the idea of owning a status symbol car while clients we were serving struggled with so many issues on so many levels in their lives.
- I felt uncomfortable showing up to work in my luxury car when I know deep down that the staff I worked with, though some have been there for years, made half the salary that I was making (and no matter how much I fought for some of them, there’s only so much to go around).
- I felt uncomfortable showing up in my Lexus to the refugees’ home in a neighborhood I probably would not want my own family members to be living in.
- I felt uncomfortable knowing in some parts of this world, millions of women and children barely have even one meal to eat.
- I felt uncomfortable knowing deep down there are Burmese children motherless and homeless, struggling to survive after the ferocious Cyclone Nagis.
I am aware and have heard it too — that some may say it’s silly, why should I carry the burden of others? Why should I feel guilty, I’ve worked hard to be where I am now. Right?
It’s ironic though that I was secretly proud to be driving my Lexus when I meet up with group of friends who are, perhaps, more into the name brands than me. And secretly, I thought I would be more respected, accepted, living in a large home and driving a Lexus.
The truth is, these things didn’t make our friendships any deeper or stronger. At the end of the day I was still uncomfortable driving it. It simply did not feel right to me.
I now know what it is like to own and drive a Lexus coupe. What I also know for sure is that regardless of the kind of vehicle I drive or the kind of home I live in or the size of my closets, the number of bedrooms I have in my home, my life still felt as though something was missing. Essentially I’ve learned that, for us, *material things* truly do tie us down from being able to free ourselves.
Most recently, our 2009 summer sabbatical really made us realize that we truly have way too much *stuff.* Frankly, we did just fine without our Lexus, our large home in the city and all the *stuff* in it. I’m not certain when the Lexus will be sold. What I do know for certain is that it is time!
We know what it is like to live in the US and have done it for nearly 30 years. It’s safe to say we’ve done a pretty good job of living a good life. So what’s the harm in leaving the familiar emptiness behind in pursuing the unfamiliar with endless possibilities of learning and growing?
There isn’t any harm really! The possibilities of living a new way of life with our daughter and introducing ourselves to new culture, people, language, and traditions seem convincingly exciting. The time is now to be free of *material things* and continue our preparation with relocation to Thailand in 2010.
(Update as of March 29, 2010: We are selling this Lexus Coupe. SOLD as of May 9, 2010. Happy Mother’s Day to Me.)