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January 12, 2002: Not to be

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I didn't mention it here because it was only an order. It wasn't quite the real thing. And there was this little voice inside my head that said not to say anything just in case. In fact, I didn't tell anyone, not even my parents. Usually I'm the one that has a hard time keeping a secret, and there really never was a good reason why this had to be a secret. It just…was.

It was back in October; the weekend before I started the new job at the-company-to-be-nicknamed-later (yes, one of these years it will get a nickname, I swear). I remember filling out the credit approval paperwork and laughing about the fact that I didn't know what my work phone number was, so couldn't provide that information to them. They didn't seem to mind. They took our deposit check, and told us it would arrive in three to six months, and we went home to wait. And then later that week Richard was laid off and I thought briefly about the order, but I didn't give it too much thought. The order was not binding. And with the popularity of this model, they'd have no problem finding a new buyer if we decided not to get it after all.

The week after Christmas the call came. "Your Prius is in," the woman said. She went on to tell me that it had arrived on the east coast and would be delivered to my dealer sometime in mid-January. Truthfully, I'd nearly forgotten that we'd ever placed the order. There were a lot of other things on my mind these past few months.

The dealer called yesterday. The car arrived. When could we come to get it?

We drove down this morning. I didn't want to see the car, but I couldn't help it; they had it sitting right out in front. Dark green, with a spoiler and tan interior. I didn't have to look through the windows to know that it had cruise control and a CD player, just as I'd requested. There was a tiny voice in my head that wanted to go out and peek inside, just to see, but I made the voice hush.

The man at the dealership was pretty understanding about it. He asked if we were sure, but I have a feeling we probably weren't the only ones he's had cancel their orders because of the slumping economy. He handed us back the deposit check, uncashed, and shook our hands, wishing us well. The car, he said, would most likely sell by the end of the weekend.

We don't need the car. The Maxima I'm driving is in great condition. The Prius was only because we really liked the concept of the hybrid, and not because it was necessary. I reminded myself that entering into a car loan on only one income was a dumb thing to do. I repeated over and over that wanting and needing are too different things and that this is the best decision for us right now. They're going to keep making this car, and they'll continue to improve it as the years pass. It's not like we can't order another one later, when things smooth out for us financially.

But that didn't make it any easier to drive away from the dealership, leaving the Prius behind.

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