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  • Viewed from the outside, my new car is just another fuel-efficient minivan. From the outside, it is sleek but sensible, staid and practical, as befits a suburban stay-at-home mom like me. I use it primarily to shuttle my kids to and from art class and park outings. It has two car seats installed, a sunroof, and a DVD player. It is a behemoth, with plenty of space in the trunk for stashing Costco purchases or, in a pinch, hostages, and an extra row of seats for carpooling. There is usually children's music playing.

    But appearances are deceiving. Because, from the inside, it is an entirely different scene. From the inside, it is a small, low-slung convertible sports car, probably a Mini-Cooper. I use it mostly to prowl the city streets at night in a short skirt and honk at hot guys. When I tool down the highway blasting indie alternative with the top down, I can feel the wind whipping through my hair. When I drive it, I am twenty years younger and the kind of person who dances till dawn, sleeps till noon, and wears torn fishnets and way too much eyeliner. The kind of badass, in short, who will lick the cream off Oreo cookies and discard the biscuit without compunction.

    When I am driving, magic happens. My four-story suburban townhouse shrinks and morphs into a downtown flat that reeks of stale cigarettes. The piles of kids' laundry awaiting my urgent attention fade and vanish, and sweat-stained club wear I didn't yet get around to bringing to my parents' house to wash take their place. The Cheerios my son spilled from atop his high chair that morning that I never had time to clean disappear, replaced by empty vodka bottles and rolling papers strewn randomly around the living room floor.

    There are no children's toys piled in the corners, just cheap second-hand Ikea furniture scored from the previous tenants and sidewalks on moving day. Our well-stocked stainless-steel fridge is now a 1970s-era model with a single, non-functioning light bulb and contains only beer bottles, nail polish, and ketchup. The spats with my husband over the kids' bedtime are arguments with my roommates over who ate the leftover takeout.

    I mainly date mercurial artist types in skinny jeans but privately yearn for high-powered hedge fund managers in expensive suits and Italian loafers. Secretly I think my roommates are underachieving directionless drifters, not to mention total fucking slobs who can't be bothered to clean the frankly revolting amount of hair encrusted on the bathroom tiles. I wish they wouldn't use my makeup without asking. I hate their taste in music.

    I hate using condoms and am pretty sure that guy from the club last night stole the last $20 from my wallet. My credit cards are maxed out and I haven't made my payments on that ridiculous sports car in two months, and besides, it's strewn with fast-food wrappers and one of my roommates dented it last week while parking. She swears she wasn't high. Most of the time I end up taking public transportation because I can't afford gas or maintenance. I would give anything to stay home and cook a good wholesome meal, but on my way to the grocery store in my car I remember we only have one pot and no money for groceries.

    And then I arrive at my destination, and I remove the keys from the ignition, slide open the back doors, and unbuckle the kids from their car seats, and everything is back as it was.
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