A continuation from yesterday’s post, wherein I explored an emotional engagement with the car that went to be scrapped. This reaction surprised me because a car is, after all, only a lump of metal, albeit a crafted and mechanised one. I am now attempting to make some ‘sense’ of my unexpected response to what might be described as an inanimate object.
Why is a car more than just a car? Perhaps because it is the repository of memories: rows, places visited, existential crises in supermarket car parks. Perhaps because its memories are different depending on which passenger you ask. Perhaps because its qualities are not fixed. A car is not just a car because, like us, it noticeably ages. Like us it becomes less efficient, less attractive superficially, less reliable. A car is also a place of possibilities: the roads you can go down, the conversations you can have, the music that might come on the radio. The possibility that one dark night the road might just vanish, whilst you are driving on it. The car as a multiverse.
What’s under the seats?
When you buy a car you can’t know where you will go – the route you will take – let alone who you will go with. What you might see? That’s something we definitely have no control over. But we must remain in control of the car, otherwise we could die. The idea that you risk your life, in some sense, every time you get behind the wheel. Every time you drive your family somewhere. The car as a safe space.
What’s in the glovebox?
I recently met someone who said that, rather than show me photographs of their children, they would show me a picture of their camper van. A place where memories are going to be laid down. Happy ones hopefully. A space that promises some good times.
There are darker uses for vehicles. They have been in the news recently and for my whole life: bombs and death.
Is your boot empty?
For most of us a car is a place where part of our lives are lived, often to a particular soundtrack on a loop. I think for me, a car ultimately represents a piece of freedom in a much constrained world. This song is a gambling one that I’ve driven home to before now.
All gone now in the empty old car.