Car Rides and Late Nights

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One thing I’ll never understand are people who don’t like to drive. I know we all have our fears, our likes and dislikes, our fetishes.  There are morning and night people, sweet or savory people, winter (vomits) or summer people.

But to HATE car rides and driving is mind boggling to me.  I’ve grown somewhat of a personal attachment to driving. I remember my 16th birthday, sleeping by the fireplace in my childhood home, alarm going off at 6:15 AM on a Sunday, so that my mom and sister could take me to the DMV to get my permit.

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Driving has always felt like safety to me. I understand that there are bad drivers and many dangerous aspects to it.  Hell, right after getting my permit I recall one of my mom’s friends telling me how when she was my age and got her license, it felt like someone was handing her a loaded gun. However, I always felt strong and confident behind the wheel. I am in control. I am in charge. I am the person who decides where I am going.

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I’ve made some of my biggest life choices, had some of the most deep, meaningful conversations, ended up in some of the most peculiar places, and had some of my greatest thoughts and ideas come to me just because I decided to go for a ride.

I’ve had my biggest laughs, most outlandish performances, and greatest cups of coffee with friends simply because I said, “wanna go for a ride?”

Over the years, I’ve had many different cars, they all have a special place and significant memories for each stage of my life within my heart. When each one of these lovely lemons decided to take a lap around that big racetrack in the sky, it truly felt like I was losing a friend. (Now you can truly understand how much I value time spent in a car).

My first car was “given” to me by my Nanie. A true gem.  The year was 2007 and it was a 1991 Buick… We shared this car and then one happy day, the weekend of Junior Prom, an elderly man ran a stop sign, dented the wheel, thus totaling my little antique. I’d had my license for about 2 months at that point. It was a devastating blow.

With the money from the insurance on that car, a family “friend” sold me, by very definition, a lemon. I guess what can I expect for $1,000 car. This car was in fact the worst car I ever had the pleasure of driving, yet it gave me the most pre alcohol memories, while simultaneously providing me with the most near death experiences. Life man. That fucking car died at every stop sign/red light. It died in the middle of the 27A connector (mama kept her cool). It died just before going into the tunnel on the Merritt Parkway S. That car gave me patience. Just stop. Breathe. DEEP BREATH. Breathe again. Count to 15. Turn the key. And with that, keep on truckin.

After selling that hunk a junk to some moron, I bought my baby. My 2002 Hyundai Senata Hatchback. My angel. I didn’t know how much I loved that little nugget or how much bliss it would bring me. That car drove my friends and me to Nashville and back. That car experienced So. Much. Vomit. That car brought me road trips, my first ticket, casino rides, heart breaks, ice cream excursions, getting lost, and eventually tears. I won’t deny crying when she had to go. I drove that car to SCSU 4+ times a week. I made emotional mixtapes to destroy myself. I came out to myself (and then took it back) for the first time (and second and third) in that car. I became me after all the long nights, deep thoughts, and tears shed in that beautiful, piece of shit, car.

When the transmission went on my sweet little angel, I was at a crossroads.  Continue the path of physically damaged cars to coincide with my emotionally and mentally damaged self, or make a big move.

Mama made a big move.

For years I fantasized about my dream car. A four door, blue, Jeep Wrangler. After much research, many conversations, a HUGE debacle at Milford Jeep, I finally got it. My dream car.

Logically speaking, it made sense. I was 24, single, more than ready to mingle, and had no plans for a family for easily 6-10 years. I work hard, save, and rarely do things for me. This was for me. My dream car. While it took a few months to accept her as my own and move past the heartbreak of my Hyundai – I did. (RIP Hyundai – always in my heart).

I’ve already made so many memories with this sweet gift from the high heavens. I’ve had many talks, with people and also myself. I invested in me. *I’m truly hoping to avoid vomit in this one*

My long derailed point is that often we rush things. We don’t sit, think, contemplate. We aren’t willing to get lost in the process of finding ourselves.

Whenever I’m feeling contemplative, drained, or sad, my go to is to grab my keys, a coffee or soda, and blast the appropriate playlist, while only taking left turns just to figure shit out. Don’t rush the process.

Often time people will text me, “Where are you?” or “What are you doing?” I’ll respond with driving around. At first people don’t get it, they think that maybe it’s weird. But it’s my yoga, so to speak. It’s great to do things like this. Clear your mind. Think. Make choices. Write it down.

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The thing is though, while I often use this as a way to help me, it’s also a way to help my friends. People that are important in my life. It’s amazing to find people who can take in the views or even the silence with you. You can’t do that with just anyone.

There are times I’d go for a ride with friends, get back to their house, and instead of go in, we just sit in the car and talk for hours.  Confined spaces can be soothing when surrounded by the right people.

To be able to drive continuously or find a place to park, late at night, when the world seems dead, lower the music, have no distractions, but each other – that’s how you get to know someone. Hear their thoughts, dreams, passions, opinions. What’s stressing them out in the past, present, or future. Just to listen.

The world is ALWAYS moving. Our brains are subconsciously moving at 100 at all times. Our hearts constantly racing. To keep the car moving so our minds can stop or to stop the car and speak our minds, that’s when we get to slow down. Talk. Learn. Listen. Discover.

To me, this is my place, my world. Not everyone can do this. For me this has brought me closer to friends, family, and self. It brings in such an emotional intimacy that I can’t truly explain. There is nothing I find more unbearable than giving a ride to someone who just doesn’t talk, or sits there awkwardly, or you’re forced to discuss whatever One Direction song that’s being over played on the radio.

Confined spaces, that’s where it all comes together.

Namaste… behind the wheel.

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