Friday, November 5, 2010

Indoors, while being outdoor

Few indoor places can travel at 80 miles per hour, but my place can do it, with ease.

My indoor place is small, green and has five doors, if you include a hatchback as a door. It's not even mine, but in the last three months I have become tied to the CR-V.

I had cars before, but being 6'8", I never really fit. My sister's CR-V is different. I fit in it, and it fits me.

I just finished a 1,200 mile drive. I drove the entire way. The black leather steering wheel merged with my hands, the stereo speakers bounced in my ears like a pair of headphones.

In front of me is the odometer, and in the nook between the odometer and the steering wheel my carmex, my hand sanitizer (germaphobe), and a pen.

What's that? I'm a bit warm? I don't even need to look to add some chill to the air. Do I want more volume, it's also right at my fingertips. In a world where everyone is out for themselves, at least my car works for me.

In the deserted strains of lifeless West Texas, the CR-V and I made a perfect pair of man and machine. With no sign of civilization, human or animal, for hundreds of miles, I decided to see the limits.

100, 110, 120. Shooting forward on a road as straight and flat as a virtual plane, the CR-V left the landscape in its dust.

Inside the confines of that car, I am able to rest, even at remarkably and dangerously fast speeds.

My dad talks about his father, my granddad, taking the kids for a ride on a Sunday afternoon. My dad and his siblings would hop in the Lincoln Continental, a whale of a car, and my grandpa would drive around the rural areas of Kansas.

This peaked my interest. I asked my grandpa one thanksgiving why he would do that?

"It relaxed me," he said.

It took a decade, but I now understand what he was talking about.

In the car, I'm in control. All the things in my life that are fleeting, all the things in my life that I want to leave behind, they are left behind. I can focus on the road, just the road.

Life is hectic, but when I am in the car, I don't feel that frenzy. I don't feel the pressure to do 15 things at one time.

Some would call this an excuse, a reason to not do do work. That's hardly the case.

When working on 10 things at a time all the time, having to be single minded moment is great. Having hours of single mindedness, that's bliss.

It's me, the wheel, the GPS (her name is Gertrude), the road in front of me and some nice central air.

In the small confines of the car, I know where everything is, I know what everything does, and again, I can control everything.

Meanwhile, out the window, I can see the some of the great landscapes of the world. Or, in some cases, the most boring places in the world.

With nothing but the road in front of me I can zone out, I can turn off the mind, if only for a moment, allowing the stress to melt away.

There's a thrill to the car as well. There's something to putting the car on cruise control and relaxing. It is another thing to push the car to the limit, to open the windows and go for a joy ride of sorts.

Much of the allure of the car is its ability to move. That's not what separates the CR-V from any other car. It's memories, it's the warmth of the interior and the comfort you feel when you close the door.

I have had some of the most memorable conversations of my life in the car. In the process I have learned about myself and others.

Every time I close the driver's door and turn the key, the conversations, the memories come back in a rush.

When a song comes on the radio, the conversations come back as if they never ended. Love, hate, pain or gain — the car is a crapshoot of emotions.

Is the car a home? No, but it might as well be. I have slept in the back seat and I am spending more time driving than in my apartment.

My parents moved out my childhood house three years ago. I never developed a bond or fond memories in the new home.

I move apartments annually. And while the memories in each are numerous and the bonds with each place tight, I never go back.

Like a man without a country, I am a man without a real home. Sure, I have places I live, but my car is the place of comfort and familiarity.

One of the best feelings in the world is walking out of a cold winter night and into a warm home. When I had that feeling in a house, I would let out an exhale, knowing that I can relax. I don't have that feeling in my apartment, but sitting in my car and closing the door, I can let out the same exhale.

Over the next few years, I will be moving around a lot. More than I have traveled in the last four years. I can only imagine that my bond with the car will continue to grow in the future.

And even if I am driving to something that is different, unknown and scary, the comfort the car can provide me I am sure will help me in the future.

"It relaxes me," my grandpa told me.

It took a decade to understand what he meant, some would say it took a decade to grow up, but in 2010 I now understand.

--Dieter Kurtenbach

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