Monday, June 20, 2011

To Drive or Not to Drive?

June 17, 2011, my first bog entry.  As of now, no one is following my blog so I am in my own clandestine cybercave.  I created this blog on the coattails of being a “loser,” i.e. runner up for a writing award at school.  After the awards ceremony with the ridiculously uninspiring keynote speech on rhetoric and St. Paul the apostle, I ran to the bathroom to escape the congratulations and croissants.  In the foyer of the ladies room, in front of the full-length wall-long mirror, I encountered the proud winner of not one, but two awards.  She was tall and gangly, a perfectly awkward recipient of English department accolades.  I, juxtaposed next to her, medium height, blonde and Californianesqe.  She brushed by me, awards in hand.  “Congratulations,” I forced through my self-deprecation.  Flushed pink with the afterglow of winnasm, she modestly thanked me and replied, “How ostentatious of me, carrying my awards like a trophy.” I laughed, inwardly noting that winners of writing awards use words like ostentatious in random restroom interactions.
     The next day a superhero surge of loser energy drove me to invent a one-woman theatrical production, write an essay on jogging as an anthropological excursion, and to create this blog.   I didn’t know how long the losing tsunami would last, but I decided to surf it till its murky and flooded end.  It died down the next day, but hey, I got this blog out of it. 
     So here I am now, weeks later, with another year of college behind me and the infinite potential of summer in front of me.  My relationship of six and a half years has ended, and I decided, given my newfound freedom and the difficulty of finding affordable housing that I would travel for the summer.  My plan was to find a cheap car and run it to the ground.  So I proceeded amidst the chaos of moving to look for a vehicle. 
     Ok, so here it is, I am impulsive, I live by whit and whim.  So it goes with buying a car.  First one up, a 94’ Dodge Caravan. The ex and I drive all the way out to Boring, OR to take a look-see.  After taking the clunker out for a spin, I agree to buy it, talking the seller down from $1000 to $700.  The van has issues. Any euphemism about my “buyer’s savvy” dissipated as I drove the chugging, wet-dog-wreaking, gas-guzzling van down highway.  My stomach sank with the weight of my mistake.  The next day, after further inspection, I realized the van was infested from ceiling to floor with mold, some of it ominously black.  I just wasted $700 on a piece of moldy metal.  I decided to try to sell it and to my chagrin, when the first potential buyers arrived the car would not even start, not a revving peep.  So I looked into my options and after using my best legal jargon talked the seller into a full refund, which was an amazing relief and blessing. 

     The moral of this scenario is that I don’t want to drive.  It is not as simple as getting from A to B, or the idyllic freedom of the open-road that car commercials propagate.   It is a doorway into another universe, a universe that I do not want to inhabit.  While driving we miss a myriad of everyday miracles. Covered in a metal shield we easily collapse into an internal bubble reinforcing the delusion that Einstein so eloquently pointed out: the false belief that we are individual organisms, separate from the whole. 
Poignancies I miss when I drive:
  • A Victorian atmosphere—cool and delicate as the dawn.  In the fragile attics of NW Portland it rocks in wooden repose, it arches flamboyant through springtime awakenings, gilded with the pale pink of the April Cherry. 
  • The subtle sweep of autumn.  Leaves tangling with knotted roots—the sun gloating in isolation.
  • Zipping on my bike through the Springwater Corridor trail, Portland’s bike freeway, i.e. heaven
  • Winter’s lethargy hiding corners of delight.  Colors whisper rather than shout.  Branches take precedence.  One can see without the fancy adornment of leaves that trees blush naked in a variety of hues.  Mustard dogwood, fuchsia apple, mauve maple, crackling colors across a slate sky.
  • The Willamette, bloated with mountain perspiration, meandering brown and placid.
  • The nooks and crannies where the gentle nuance of nature meets the outrage and ingenuity of humanity: broken asphalt with the patient press of the dandelion sprouting through.
  • The potent promise of lavender, its dry scent wafting arid through wet murk.
  • Chimes tingling against my vertebrae.
  • January’s leftover Christmas ornaments strewn like nostalgic litter
  • That light! shattered across the river, sharpening my vision, illuminating the seagulls, glinting off the silver raised platform of the Hawthorne Bridge, touching each angular sail of each nautical vessel down in the harbor below, tricking me into elation.

I have chosen not to delve into the atrocities of driving and its cancerous effect on the planet. I don't want to succumb to a cliche binary exhortation on the evils of the road.  I am not staunchly opposed to driving, but at this time in my life I prefer not to drive.  I prefer a more dynamic way of life, one where I engage the path, not just the destination.