23 November 2012

[23] cars

When I had my baby Landcruiser in Rwanda, I felt like I knew it so well. I drove it non-stop for two years, and by the end, it was almost an extension of my body.

I knew its foibles (a tendency toward electrical problems that periodically made the horn not work or the gauges go crazy, an inability to keep power up the first long hill out of Kigali to the west unless I turned off the air-conditioning and opened the windows because it was four cylinders instead of eight).

I knew how to get out and lock and unlock the wheels for 4-wheel drive, and what kind of mud it could handle in 2- or 4-wheel drive.

I knew exactly how much space it took up, and exactly when I could dart between those other cars.

When I moved to Universe City and bought my little Honda two years ago, I felt clumsy behind the wheel. I hadn't had a car for three years in New York and three years afterwards in wandering + Gone West, and driving no longer felt natural. 

This from a girl who started drivers training two days after her 15th birthday and proudly accepted the surprised "You are a good driver!" comments from U. in Rwanda, who didn't expect her to be able to drive through mud because 1. she was young, and 2. she was a girl. (I was, I mean. My persons are getting confusing.) I am from the Mitten, where we drive. We drive a lot. And we have snow. Of course I had no problem with mud.

This evening, after purchasing a $10 bottle of fragrance-free shampoo (available only on the other side of town and the bottle is small - duurrrrgh, my skin issues are getting even more expensive), I stopped to buy a scarf. After trying on about 15 of them and determining that acrylic, viscose, and cashmere do bother my skin, as does any texture to polyester, but that generally polyester, cotton, and silk are okay, I turned on my car and something felt weird. 

My car has once again become such an extension of me that I know immediately upon turning it on that a headlight has burned out. I know the pattern my headlights throw, and it wasn't being thrown. My Mitten training has come back, full force.

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