Originally uploaded by www.DaveWard.net.
My first car was a classic MG.--very cool and European. The gift of a high school boyfriend, it sat on the outskirts of the swampy woods near my house for at least a year.
Over time, the weeds grew up through the rusted floors. They were tall and obtrusive enough to feel like an extra passenger by the time my father had the car towed out of there. I don't remember whether the thing ran or not, but it didn't matter. I wasn't much interested in driving.
My theory is that there are two kinds of people: those who run out and get their license on the first calendar day the law allows, and those who take to the road only when it becomes necessary.
I was firmly in the latter group. I loved walking; our city had good public transportation; and besides, most of the places I wanted to go weren't accessible by car. I wanted to travel to Europe, to see the Great Wall, to traverse the vast inner desert that seemed to grow more expansive by the day.
Still, I loved that car. When my parents argued, or I wanted to be alone and think about the world, I would go and sit in my little European car where the weeds grew wild.
That year I collected college catalogues from every state in the union and a few international schools. As soon as the mail came, I took my brochures into the car, and fingered the glossy pictures, imagining lives I might inhabit.
The mailman said that he felt as if he'd traversed the world just delivering my mail; and so did I. In the end, I think he was a little bit disappointed when I chose the state university.
I read Eric Fromme's THE ART OF LOVING sitting in that car, and thought my life was changed forever. It wasn't, but I can still remember the exhilaration of believing it could be. At any moment.
And mostly, I wrote. I filled dozens of diaries. I curled up in the driver's seat, and made long lists of the places where I would travel, the careers that I would have, the things I would do before I die. Like my dream of attending a distant college, most of those things never happened outside the confines of my rusted sports car.
The MG was nearly buried by the weeds from the swamp by the time it was towed away. Strangely, I felt no sadness to see it go. I was eighteen and hungry for the future. I said good-bye to my home city, to the house where I'd spent my life, to friends and even my beloved dog without nostalgia. I barely noticed my parents' tears as they watched me pack. What was one little car that never ran?
And yet looking back, I realize I traveled further in that immobile MG than in any vehicle I ever owned.