Sunday, September 20, 2009

Odometer Sentimentality

Driving is not my favorite thing, but it's something that's required to get from one place to another, particularly when you don't live in a fabulously public transit urban area. I could walk to the grocery store, but I'd be taking my life into my own hands, given the spotty sidewalk availability and the speed of traffic. People aren't so always used to pedestrians around here. So driving is the way it's got to be.

Most of the time I'm on my own in the car, listening to the radio, singing along, and let's be honest, sometimes pretending I'm in a music video. There's nothing like an open stretch of road and your favorite song of the week playing full blast (or at least semi-full blast, don't want to burst an ear drum). But a lot of people, maybe even most, sing in the car. It's the mobile equivalent of a shower, just a little drier. There's something that I do in the car that I've never heard anyone else doing.

There are two odometers in a car: one with the total mileage for the car, and another that can be reset, generally used for mileage per tank of gas. It counts miles to one decimal point. This may sound ridiculously basic to describe, but I'm setting a scene. When I get up to around two hundred miles on one tank, I have a nostalgic little ritual I almost always go through. Remember that one decimal point? That means that at two hundred miles, the odometer reads 2000. I begin to think of where I was in 2000, what was happening. I began high school in 2001, and memories of lunch in the cafeteria and my first poetry slam come to mind. I remember each year as the wheels turn beneath me and the miles go by. 2005, there goes my graduation and my first year in college, the friends I made and the memories we shared.

It's only a matter of moments before we reach 2009, today. I remember how driving this same car years ago I imagined this year and what I would be doing, graduating and leaving school. It seemed so far away then. Now, it seems to be slipping away faster than it does on the dashboard. Before I know it the years are flying by. 2014, five years from now, what will that bring? 2017 I turn 30, will anything have changed. The decades go by, and soon I can't calculate my age fast enough, and the moment has passed. Back to singing and driving.

It may be only a mile or two, but it's an interesting reminder of where I've been and a well-developed moment to consider where I'm going (in more ways than one). Maybe other people do it as well, but for me, this is a personal moment brings smiles and a few hopeful tears. There I am, alone in the car, alone on the road, just pushing on. I can't go back. Even if I shifted into reverse, the odometer would keep going forward.

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