Monday, February 22, 2016

Two Hundred Thousand Miles

My personal chariot, my car known as Oscar, and I achieved a new landmark today.  When I got in the car this morning and looked at the display I was astonished to see the number 2 followed by 5 zeros.  Two hundred thousand miles Oscar and I have driven together.

That's amazing, isn't it?  To think that since February 2001 when Oscar and I became a team, this sturdy sedan has been my conveyance for a huge number of miles.

Many of those miles have been alone.  Some of them have been carefree trips, some of them heart heavy journeys.  Of course, the best miles in this car will always be the times that my beloved dog Joe and I would drive to the beach.  I drove, Joe gazed ardently out the window and rested his sweet muzzle at the perfect angle to catch the wind.

Two hundred thousand miles, mostly driven by me, a woman.  Lady, grown up girl, female.  Oscar has occasionally been lent to friends or driven by Mr. Bookcharmer when I'm tired of driving, but most of those miles were rolled onto the odometer with me behind the wheel.

It's funny to think about, isn't it?  Sunday evening when I parked after a short trip to see the sunset in Alviso, Oscar had already quietly rolled that number in to place.  Will Oscar and I make it to 300,000? Will I ever have another car I put so many miles on?

I found this documented number a moment to pause and think about all the emotions, power, money, and politics it represents.  Roads, gasoline, oil, tires, inspections, parts, repairs...highways, freeways, interstates...all the words associated with road travel:  gas station, rest area, traffic.  My commute to work, 48 or 49 weeks a year for the past fifteen years!  One cross country drive, multiple trips up and down California in the last ten years.

It's incredible to think that one person can have been transported that far in her lifetime.  What about all those miles I racked up as a passenger, or on a bus, an airplane, the occasional train?

One of my favorite writings about cars is by Bailey White.  In one of her essay collections she writes about her old car, which she calls her real car, and her new car.  She writes of the sounds and smells of cars, and the sense of recognizing that when we get in them, we are "hurtling along the surface of the earth at an unnatural speed."

She's right, of course.  I go down the road with my AAA card, my drivers' license, my proof of insurance, seat belt clicked, air bags factory installed and away we go, Oscar and I.  But is it natural? Is movement emotionally more manageable at "natural" speeds powered by wind or horse?  If you haven't merged on to 101 during rush hour, don't argue with me about the emotion of every day driving.

Speed and time, the two other commodities here in Silicon Valley. But let's not go into those topics just now.  Please join me in congratulating Oscar on his 200,000 miles of distance.

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