My car has State of Happiness plates and even a license plate frame from a dealership in Gone West. It was driven in the Gone West metro area for the 14 years before I bought it. It belongs here as surely as I feel right at home in this city. No one can tell from looking at my car that I am anything but born and raised here.
And yet, I am realizing that I've never really lived in a big city with a car. Big, bustling highways have always been adventures, not daily life.
Sure, I like driving 80 in a 55 mph zone in Chicago and being the slowest car on the road, but do I want to live that way? (Ha! Not that drivers in Gone West drive 80. Ever. This is a land of slow drivers, unless they are either 1. 19 year old boys, or 2. drunk and driving the wrong way on the highway.)
I don't really like driving on the big, bustling highways, even such as they are in this city that has long outgrown its 6 and 8 lane highways. (Chicagoans are laughing right now, because their highways are 6 and 8 lanes per side. Here I mean 3 and 4 lanes per side.) I don't like how they all crisscross so rapidly in a city whose core is so small. I don't like how State of Happiness seems to believe in placing the signs that tell you where to go exactly at the point where you need to exit, so that there is no advance warning at all about that left hand exit coming up until you are actually level with the exit.
I do know that soon, when all these highways are as familiar to me as the streets of this neighborhood I finally get to live in, I will feel affection for the crisscrossing interchanges, too. In the meantime, I got an iPhone a week ago, in the Mitten, and I have been depending on the google maps app to get me places.
I've never really been interested in the GPS idea, and I'm even less interested in it now that I have it. I always want a big picture of where I am going, and "In one quarter mile, take Exit 98767 toward 7485 Street" doesn't really do that. All I can see on the little screen is the very next turn and occasionally the one after that, and that isn't enough for me.
Also, am I the only one who keeps missing turns with the GPS that I feel certain I would have found if I had actually seen a map that would show me how many streets there were before my turn? A couple of days with Siri telling me where to go and I'm ready to go back to that atlas in my trunk.
And then possibly grumble about how we did things in my day and how we walked to school uphill both ways in the snow and how we had to finish our plates and how we were grateful for those lima beans* because we were so hungry.
I do, after all, drive a car with a manual transmission, by deliberate choice.
* I actually really like lima beans.