Driven by Desire

One couple, two cultures, and what it means to buy a car


| September / October 2005



The first sharp pang of desire hit me in the parking lot of my daughter's preschool. It was a cold winter day in North Carolina, and as I buckled my seat belt, another mother maneuvered her gleaming new Volvo station wagon into the space beside my 1992 Honda Civic. She smiled and gestured for me to roll down my window so we could talk.

She was on my passenger side, so I unbuckled my seat belt, leaned across the seat, and groped for the handle to open the window. Once I found it, I rotated the crank, slowly and painfully, counterclockwise. The window jerked down in spurts, as stubborn and recalcitrant as my 3-year-old in the back seat. Meanwhile the Volvo's window glided down in one smooth motion, as if melting into the door.