Sunday, December 04, 2005

I love my car, part 1

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
San Francisco
Vegas (twice)
England (well, the New one anyway)

Part 2 and so forth later.


Skerlie Bee said...

See, here's where we differ. I got a new car and had to get rid of my old one, and I didnt feel the least bit guilty. Sure, we travelled together and had adventures, and she kept secrets of mine that no one will ever know. However, when she started to betray me, thats when the relationship turned cold. First she tried to keep me from my class trip to Disneyland (I was a chaperone, going free...) and then from something else.All because she wouldn't start. These were forgiveable. But when she kept me from going on a date with someone I really liked, for the same reason, that was when I had to throw down the gloves and get dirty. Her days were numbered then....
To think, I could be MARRIED by now if it weren't for that damn car!

See, no regrets!

You obviously replaced yours for a REASON right? Consider that before you go getting all sad!

Eti said...

If I may revert the commenting back to a sense of loss...

I had a white Ford Explorer with a red wrap-around stripe that I absolutely adored. Think Jurassic Park, without the awesomely cool paint job.

I had it for two years when it was brutally murdered in early 2000 by a shitty Ford F250 who ran a red light. (I took crime scene pictures if anyone's interested.)

When I had to give it up, it made me all nostalgic about where it had been, the various people who I made out while in it and the service it provided during those two brief years on the mean streets of L.A..

These days, whenever I see a similar car, I get sad. Maybe later I’ll pour out some engine oil on the floor in its honor.

God, I miss that car!