Sunday, June 11, 2006

We'll keep on fighting til the end

So I woke up this morning with the intention to go to church. (Yes, I am of that dying variety who still makes a regular habit of going on Sundays.) Having just got back from four days in Mexico City and various airports just yesterday afternoon, however, my body told me no. I needed rest. Slept right throught the alarm I’d set. No church on today’s menu.

That’s not the weird part, though. I’d been up a couple hours when I realized I wouldn’t have been able to go to church if I’d wanted to. I sorta forgot the fact I was – and still am – carless. I am without car. It was as if I totally expected to hop in the old ’86 Honda Civic Hatchback and head the 5 or 6 miles there, no problems.

To add to that experience, I was driving my stepdad’s Miata last week – embarrassing to be driving an old man’s sports car, yes, but things needed doing and it came in quite handy – when I made a mistake. I unlocked the passenger side door to open up the driver’s side. I was even that close to clambering over; due to the size of the car and the size of my body, it was a near impossibility. That’s when I remembered that, well, this wasn’t the Civic. Other people are able to unlock their driver’s side doors, easy sleazy, but I haven’t been one of those people in ages. It’s like I’m operating like someone who has lost an arm: my car has been sold for a cool 300 to a business-savvy mechanic, but it still exists in my mind. Wonder how long that’ll last?

I’m car hunting. I’ll likely find one eventually, too. Those who hunt usually find. It’s just harder to say goodbye to my car of nine years or so than I’d previously thought. Here’s a piece I wrote a couple years back about The Champ – it’s as close an homage as I’ll prolly ever get, too. Read it while I willow weep.

I have discovered that my favorite time of the day to drive is near 3 A.M. Usually this means I will be driving from some place in Orem (or as the locals call it, ARM) to Salt Lake City. It's a short 35-40 minute drive. I leave then because I'm usually getting kicked out of a friend's house for no good reason or because I've fallen fast asleep on my mother's couch and simply must seek refuge in my own bed.

There is a peace to driving at this time of the morning disguised as the twilight of evening. Few cars dot the highway and, because of this, my anxiety fades away fast. Road rage and all the swear words that adhere to it like so much flies to fly paper, they fade away fast. I find myself driving 55 or 60 mph quite often, my mind falling deep into an album by Drums and Tuba, wondering - but not really caring - why the tuba isn't more of a presence in a band called such. The signs warning me that fines double for speeding in work zones don't really phase me because I'm already going the slower speed, regardless of which lane I'm in. It's a time to smile because, hey, I'm in that dream-like state of just-there awareness, dragging out the very pleasant "just woke up" feeling for as long as I can muster it. I'm so sappy happy, it's as if I'm doing the drive home from the bar, the one where you should never know that you shouldn't be doing it on your own, but you do so anyway (because you went there alone, again, and leave there alone, again) causing you to wake up laughing the next morning in disbelief you even made it there. You don't even remember any specifics, but you do the feelings. You forget the route but remember the six Coronas. That sort of thing.

There really is no reason why I should feel safe at all. The front bumper of my Civic is threatening to fall off as it is pointed dangerously down towards the ground, the result of a little scuffle on the street. Many times I've imagined it falling off at the most inopportune moment, forcing my car to vault over it clumsily and make the both of us do airborne somersaults. I don't think about the nonexistent airbags or not being able to master a landing quite so much. It probably isn't the greatest notion to dwell on while in the process of driving, and yet I only think of such things when behind the wheel. It's not that I'm worrying, really, so much as wondering how things will play out and what kind of monstrosity I might become, should I survive the event. Even if I didn't, I'm certain my mother would stand over my open casket, scolding me for never purchasing a safer car, like she had a-hundred times before. Ironic, really, when she's the one who bought it brand new. This is, after all, the car to survive being run over by a bus in some warped amateur demolition derby of sorts. It also held up rather well when it plowed into a telephone pole, ruining a headlight. It matters very little there were nine of us crammed inside at the time, that there was a thin layer of ice in the alley leading up to it or that I was attempting to scare my passengers shortly before my steering wheel and brakes locked up, and I ended up scaring myself. Still, it's the only real accident I can remember and, as it wasn't my car at the time, I discovered that, in the realm of parents forgiving their wayward teens, fake tears work for the boys just as well as they do for the girls.

I mean, there are plenty other characteristics I've learned to live with so far. I just don't think they'll end up possibly killing me. The passenger side door doesn't quite open from the inside, unless it's by me, either forcing patience from the person I'm attempting to let out (it's like cracking a safe, really ... it knows its owner's touch) or that I jump out and spring to the other side, proving to anyone within eyeshot that chivalry never died. I have no armrest on my side. I do, but it's in the back, where it's been more than four years now, in what thinks it is trunk space. There are two settings for the air conditioning: one is HIGH and the other is MY HOT ROD IS MY ICY WIND TUNNEL. Pastel paper hole punches still shoot out at me from the vents every blue moon, the product of an April Fool's joke that happened six years ago, causing me to detest the funny person who pulled the prank SIX YEARS AGO a little more each time one shoots out and gets stuck in my teeth. The middle seatbelt in the back works, but only during the second Wednesdays of every third month. And, once I hit 75, the rattling is so loud, I close my eyes for seconds at a time, fully able to imagine I'm in a Jeep Wrangler in Moab, and aiming for potholes ON PURPOSE.

The Champ (for that is its name) is my Jalopy. Just call me Jughead.


gretel said...

D, Your way of writing is really beautiful and relaxing.

Dainon said...

Aww, thank you.

plainoldsarah said...

reading about the lone drive in the champ/roach was such a vivid experience that i think i finally could see out of someone else's eyes in a way that makes you forget about yourself for a bit. you know how you know that others are just as real and aware as yourself, but it's easy to forget since you're always so full of yourself? well this piece made me forget myself and be aware of someone else's realness. cool. thanks.