I should be doing cartwheels over the fact that I have a brand new car, but for the moment I'm wracked with guilt and thinking about Toy Story.
Some people think that humans are set apart from other animals by nature of the depth and meaning of the bonds we make with others of our species. I don't think that's it; I think what sets us apart is our ability to make deep, meaningful bonds with inanimate objects. And I'm not just talking about the stuff we personify as kids (stuffed animals, action figures) or mementoes that represent one specific thing (security blanket, first dollar earned, ticket stub, etc.). I mean that it's possible, and probably inevitable, to form a lasting connection to something that's been in your life for a very long time, even if that something can't talk, meow, bark, or gurgle. Not that this is all that earth-shattering of a point to be making; I think we're all pretty well aware of it. But I'm wondering if that concept works in reverse. Tyler Durden told us that the things you own end up owning you, but the more heartening (and potentially guilt-inducing) message of Toy Story was that the things you get attached to end up getting attached to you. Did my 1995 Honda Accord get attached to me? (And hey, isn't 1995 also the year Toy Story came out?) Is a machine capable of feelings? Well, now we're getting into Terminator 2 territory. But I digress.
I had the car for about ten and a half years. At the risk of introducing yet another metaphor, I guess it was kind of like having a pet -- first in the sense that its entire life was encapsulated in a relatively small period of mine, and then in the sense that it saw me through a lot of very different stages in my life without much obvious reaction. Wherever I was, it just did its car stuff. Clearly I needed it to come with me when I moved here, because living in L.A. without a car is tantamount to living in Utah with only one spouse, but really, I didn't just need a car; I needed that car. As much of a disconnect as it was to be driving down Sunset in the same vehicle that used to require regular de-icing for 3 months a year, it also made everything sort of make sense. I was protected from the forces of external change by this light blue metallic forcefield with bumper stickers strategically placed to cover up scratches. The CDs that used to be the soundtrack for getting lost down one-way streets in Boston just switched over to being the soundtrack for getting lost on the way to LAX or the Valley or wherever. (Not that that happens anymore.) So even though things were a whole lot different in the world outside the car, on the inside they were pretty much the same.
Another digression, and then I have to go to bed. Here's a partial list of places the car was, at some point or other, driven around in, skipping the obvious like Boston and L.A.:
Vermont (most of the state)
New Hampshire (probably just a little)
Rhode Island (Newport and environs)
Connecticut (drove through)
Montreal (because you can drink and gamble when you're 18)
New York (but not NYC, sadly)
Georgia (mainly Savannah)
Florida (Daytona Beach and Orlando)
every state between Massachusetts and Florida
England (well, the New one anyway)
Part 2 and so forth later.