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Column: Sometimes change is good

I'm usually pretty slow to accept a lot of change in my life. I grow fond of people, routines and even objects. I'm not fond of trying to change any of those things.

I recently made a change that, frankly, was long overdue in my life: I got a new car. And I've had absolutely no problem adjusting to that particular change.

I bought my little red Saturn in 1999. She was good to me for a long time -- I went for probably eight years and over 100,000 miles before I started having problems with her. We crossed over 200,000 miles in June, but by July, I learned she had a crack in the radiator, and the clutch was starting to go. I had to admit to myself, the time to find a new car had come.

I figured I'd be able to at least hold out through the Minnesota State Fair. I was working there, and stood to make a few extra bucks, enough for a substantial down payment.

Turns out, I was half right. Five days into the fair, the time had come. I was driving around St. Paul with bottles of water in my back seat, pulling over frequently to fill the radiator and hoping the car wouldn't overheat while I waited in line to get into the fairgrounds.

After driving the same car and being perfectly happy to do so for 11 years, I had not looked at any other model. I used to wonder about people who would come to the State Fair and look at all of the car lots set up out there. It seemed to me there would be better things to do at the fair.

Well, on the first day, I became one of those people.

I picked out my new wanna-be vehicle that afternoon, but waited a few days before going to a dealership to take a test drive. I met with a salesman. We took one out for a test drive. Other than the color, I was pretty much sold after that.

Now, buying a new car can be a very humbling experience. When, for instance, the salesman and his manager went out to look over my potential trade in (for which I ultimately received $200), I became a little self-conscious. It was messy in my car. The seatbelt was frayed. The windows were dirty. It was 11 years old, and it kind of looked like crap, so I was a little embarrassed.

Oddly, by the time the paperwork was all signed, and my pretty new "black cherry" colored car was ready to go, I'd lost my sense of sentiment for the little red car I was leaving behind. Pulling out of the parking lot, listening to the satellite radio I now had (a serious upgrade from the cassette player in the Saturn), I cast one final glance over at my little red car. We had some good times, she and I. For just a second, I felt a little melancholy for leaving her behind.

And then I stepped on the gas and cruised out of the parking lot. I headed down Highway 3, cut over to Apple Valley. Picked up a few things I needed for the State Fair the next day. I stopped over at a friend's to show off my new wheels. Rolled down the windows, turned up the stereo. I'm pretty sure I put on 75 miles my first night.

That was two weeks ago already. This new "she" is in need of a wash, but otherwise, I'm having a lot of fun. Offering to drive any time I'm going somewhere with friends. Pointing out my new ride to just about anyone who will listen. It just doesn't get old.

I'm still finding new little gadgets and perks inside my new car, too. My sister showed me the extendable visors and my brother found the secret compartment for sunglasses. I've got Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville station programmed in on my satellite radio station, and just the simple fact that I have a remote key entry system about sends me over the edge.

The only thing I haven't really tackled yet is the Bluetooth system. That pairs up with the new cell phone I got two days before the car. And that's another whole adjustment I'm making...

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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