When I bought a car earlier this year, I was dubious. I had been without wheels for 3 years moving myself around via public transportation in Korea and Chicago. But I was in neither of those wonderlands any longer, and so I had to adapt to the way of the Midwesterner…the way of Sprawl.
I resisted. Oh did I resist. Insurance, gas, oil changes, general maintenance. What a time and money suck this beast was going to be, like a child with extra-curricular activities! Every time I contemplated this purchase, all I could think was….
Indeed, sir. But Sprawl is a motherfucker to walk around/bike through. Why the hell is everything so far apart? And why is it so cold/windy/sunny/humid? I’m a delicate flower that blossoms only in temperate weather. What I would have given for the compact, tenticlish streets of the Old World, or just one single bus that ran from tip to tail of this dumb town more than once every 2 hours. And then I was hired, and the car became necessity. Enter:
That bitchin car. After the initial bank account shock, it dawned on me what I had forgotten in my years of vehicular abstinence: driving is fucking fantastic. Look at how fast I can go! Listen to my drum solo on the steering wheel! I can go anywhere at any time! It can be hot OR cold in here! Behold my absolute freedom! (Let’s save carbon footprints and natural resource dwindlings for another conversation.) I reverted with shocking speed to my 16 year old self, a newborn drunk on speed and recklessness – a sensation akin to riding a bike, drunk, down a mountainside (which I have also done). Look everybody, I can fly!
I love propulsion. I love momentum. I love combustion engines. I do not love obstacles. And every single person, animal, orange construction barrel in my path is an obstacle that must be routed. I can bring death upon you, unlucky obstruction. I’m fueled by unleaded gas and aggression.
I recognize that this is a dangerous attitude, and to be honest I don’t like being filled with murderous rage when people don’t use their blinkers. My heart is prone to flutters and stalls. But I have a commute, and a commute is actually a competition with everyone in the world to see who can make it home alive first. Everyone in Sprawl is playing, and their playing with the same insanely short-fuse that I’m playing with. The only rule: never let your guard down. There are no higher stakes than not dying in a fireball at 5pm on the interstate.
This all sounds super unsafe, I know. It probably is. But it’s the way of life here. And when your days blur together, when your weeks become hazes of email chains, meetings, shitty sitcom episodes, election commercials, jogging on a treadmill…well you’ve got to get your thrills somewhere, right?