Monday, October 26, 2009

riding in cars

I've been thinking a lot about cars lately.
Now, as any340849699_a5cbcc37b4one who knows me can tell you, I'm blessed with one of those minds that can't tell cars apart (It was....white? With a....butt?) so to have me recognize a car on the road is no mean feat. 
(This is also part of the reason all the neighbors think I'm super-friendly. I wave at all the cars that pass.)
I'm not really going to go into how I can be counted upon to get into the wrong car at the grocery - who knew there were so many small red cars? Not me, obviously....
Or how I once followed who I thought was my husband home from the grocery only to have this very puzzled man pull to the stop at the head of his driveway.....My husband was following me. It all got sorted out. Whew.
Maybe it would be more correct to say I've been remembering cars that I've ridden in.
My grandmother took me on a trip across the country when I was fourteen. I still remember the smell of the leather interior and her Giorgio and how the flatlands of Kansas seemed to go on forever.  I curled up on the floor of the front, a sheet or something over myself to try and be in the shade, and dreamt of riding bareback through fields of grain. I woke running with sweat. When we stopped, we drank ginger-ale and I ate kiwi for the first time. I was just starting to come out of my shell then, discovering that maybe I didn't have to be shy all the time and I liked different things than everyone else.

My first serious boyfriend had a black Chevy Nova that was so battered it was a miracle it held together. It crouched at the end of the driveway when he'd pick me up, looking like a giant cockroach, setting my mothers' teeth on edge. But the front seats were good for necking, even if the car smelt of paint thinner and was littered with crunched cassette tape boxes.
When B and I married we had an ancient car, a real workhorse that ran us back and forth for years without complaining. When I was hugely pregnant with Rosey, we looked at the Eagle's tiny backseat and decided it was time to get a new car. Two kids, both in carseats? We needed the most room we could get.
So we bought an SUV. It was so big and foreign I wouldn't drive it for a few months, but soon I was used to it, and it became 'Mama's truck', hauling kids or whatever everywhere. I love that big carnow. The gas mileage sucks, but I know where everything is, and it fits me now, as a mom of two with all the assorted gear that brings.
B bought a new car last year, and all of a sudden my truck wasn't the shiny new mobile it'd been. Suddenly, it looked....big. And clunky. And the little new car was so speedy....
Today, when the kids and I were cleaning the SUV out, getting out the detritus of months of school projects, McDonald's wrappers, unidentifiable plastic toys and sticky things out from under the seats, I realized the new car smell is gone. There's not much joy about the Blazer anymore. It's ordinary now.
But I remember riding in it, bringing a new baby home, the rest of my family around me, back when the dash sparkled and the ride seemed smoother than possible. Back when having a family was new and the beginning of a grand adventure.....

Jessica blogs at daysgoby when she's not tooling around  and glancing sort-of-enviously at the newer cars on the road.....

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