Thursday, November 15, 2007

Evolution, with Tires

In high school and early college, I was a VW bug (new model). Small. Unassuming. Kind of cute, kind of perky, but not really overbearing, or particularly sexy. Nothing superlative, in a good or bad way. Not the best or the worst, safest or least safe, cutest or ugliest. People tended to like me, and smile when I toodled by, a colorful flower in my dashboard vase.

In later college and just after, I thought I was a BMW convertible. Hot. Zippy. Wanted. I was a senior. I was thinner and more toned than I'd ever been (or have been since). I got parts in plays. I had a boyfriend with a hot English accent. I was traveling the world. I was the newest, hottest, most beautifully engineered thing. People ate my dust as I zoomed by impertinently. If you can't keep up, oldies, then stay off the Autobahn.

In the latter years of dating this English boy, who was not a good person, I was a broken down rotting old jalopy. I was put up on blocks, rusting in the front yard, with pieces falling off and no one to restore me. Nobody wanted me then. I was a wreck, ready for the salvage yard, headlights broken and blank from shame.

After that lonely foray into the car graveyard, I became a new 4WD pickup truck. Tough. Could roll over anything. Don't need no prissy automatic transmission. Don't need no lazy daisy automatic locks. Wanted to be the bare essentials, and to broadcast a cowboy loner, at-one-with-open-land, no-roads-necessary self-reliance. *This is the only one of my car identities that I ended up purchasing.*

And now? Now. I'm a minivan. I'm not even a cavalier SUV, saying To hell with global warming, my life is too busy and complex to deal with that crap, give me a car that's functional and also cool. Nope. Not a station wagon, which to my generation has a sort of boho chic air about it, like I'm so un-hip, I'm hip. I'm a big old freaking minivan, rumbling around, just lame enough to be lame. Built to carry children around. Manifestly not broadcasting youthful exuberance or self-reliance or sexiness or speed. Meant for integrated groups. But. Comforting. Roomy. Good for long trips. Lots of room, lots of configuration options with my interior space, incredibly useful, reliable, all things to all people. Able to become somebody's home, if they need it.

Yeah, I'm a minivan. I imagine I will continue as a minivan until retirement. And then, baby, I'm one of a pair of Harley Davidsons, riding the open road with abandon, wind whipped, free and fast and shined up. Sexy in a totally different way, in a Piss Off kind of way, in a tough-old-bird but still a rebel kind of way. Unfettered. Dangerous. Devil may care.

But with my grandkids' names stitched into my saddlebags.

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