I drive off in my car

16465627_1388763494508524_7762114980391944192_n

1969 Oldsmobile Cutlass (Hollywood)

I may not be doing a damn thing when it comes to actively shooting the photo series I’ve been talking and talking about shooting for easily three years now, but I do spend quite a lot of time thinking about things that I recognize are elements connected to what it might eventually become; what I want most for it to somehow express. (If I ever turn thought into action, of course, as the caveat goes. As an engine myself running almost entirely on varying types and degrees of anxiety, this is one of the greatest hurdles of my life, no matter which problem of non-action you apply it to. Choose any one thing: if I have not done it, I am vibrating silently in anxiety over both it, and the 500 invented reasons why I have yet to do it.) Maybe I’m simply doubtful I could ever, at this point, create work that could even begin to communicate such a concept. Moving from concept to execution: the bane of my existence.

I think about it when I’m sitting at stop lights, inevitably, because the idea first arrived in my mind while watching strangers doing the very same thing. I think about it because, in my ideal world of action, I should be somewhere out on the sidewalk, capturing it, rather than participating in it. I think about it when I watch people pull into the gas station I always use from the wrong direction; they’re operating from within the bubble I want to document. I think about it when I’m doing the very private things in my own car I want to catch strangers doing: singing… crying. Particularly the latter, though I usually save that for nighttime, when other drivers can’t really see into other cars. I think about it a lot.

Aimless driving is one of those many things, too. It’s something I’ve engaged in ever since I was able to drive, once I finally had a car of my own (as two years passed between the two). In my hometown, it was an easy habit to engage in, both because I was largely miserable, and because there is nowhere to go there. I would simply get into the car, usually when my mother was already asleep (i.e. any time after 9PM), and drive. Typically north, but always along the coast. I would do it simultaneously very aware of having nowhere to go, and not caring. Gas was much cheaper when this habit formed, but I still do it now. Being as desperately broke as I am (and apparently will forever be) cannot stop me from doing it even now, as long as there is gas in the car already. I don’t even attempt to justify it to myself, both because I know this isn’t possible, and also because it’s the rare thing in my life about which I could give a fuck regarding its justification to myself.

I was aimlessly driving around just last night, which was a poor choice; it was a Friday night, in and around Hollywood; peak traffic time for those with actual lives who have concrete destinations and plans to get to and from, which felt both annoying and exclusionary. When I do this, in a city as large and busy as this one, I typically allow traffic to direct me, because there is nothing else to decide where I will go, or which route I will take to get there and back. If the roads are not so packed, though, I’ve found that I sometimes will — without meaning to, of course — dissociate slightly, here and there. I will lose focus on where I am, and what I am doing. I will follow blurred head- or taillights more closely than more immediate indicators. I put absurd trust into my sense of where exactly on the road I am, simply because I have learned over many years that I can. (My mother would kill me, if she knew.) I have good instincts in a car — mainly thanks to the manner in which I was taught to operate one, and my generally good reflexes — and am not overly concerned about my control over the vehicle, but at the same time, I’m rather amazed I’ve never gotten into an accident; my concentration is not at 100%, any time that I am doing this, because I am going nowhere.

This ever-developing project inevitably came to mind again last night, because it is mostly about the strange space we enter into when we are inside cars, and how deeply they alter our behavior. They become protective bubbles we feel we have absurdly more control over than we actually do (and this doesn’t even take into account the thousands of other drivers, even less predictable than ourselves, we are sharing those roads with); these bizarre, heavy, sharp, mechanical, deadly extensions of ourselves. Or rather, we behave and feel as though this is what they are.

People often express outrage, dismay, and helpless confusion as to why and how it is that human beings treat automobile accident fatalities — which occur in astronomical numbers — so casually, but I am sure all these psychological elements are a part of that. We accept that cars can kill us — are more statistically likely to kill us than any other entirely separate entity or object we regularly engage with, by far — almost casually, because some part of us sees them as an extension of our bodies. We feel protective of them, react to traffic transgressions as personal slights; gas and brake pedals can feel like extensions of our legs, the turning wheels a greater reach of our hands steering them. (This is, when you examine it closely, something like a shared lucid state of all drivers, flirting a bit with mild insanity.) Maybe we associate cars and driving so deeply with escape because merely driving one is skirting more closely to death than just about any other activity we ever participate in on a regular basis. Of course a car can kill you; cancer can kill you, too. It feels more akin to that than an outside element acting upon us, as with homicide, which we react to with far more visceral horror. Until, of course — potentially, likely when you least expect it — they fold in onto you like a metallic accordion — because you are just a small, soft animal, precariously housed in a glass and metal cage full of gasoline several times your size — crushing you to death.

I think about these things while driving around, rather than about where I am going, sometimes slightly dissociating, all the time.

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “I drive off in my car

    • Ha! The answer to this (lovely, as always; thank you) comment is: yes, and no. The foreword would likely be much longer, because (a) this idea has been percolating for far too long already, and (b) I am the most unnecessarily loquacious motherfucker on this planet.

      But thank you, too, for thinking it’s good enough to qualify for that.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’m feeling a sudden urge to just get in my car and drive… 🙂

    Seriously though, I understand the feeling. I’m a terrible passenger – I tend to feel carsick, have ever since I was a little kid. But when I’m in the driver’s seat, all of that goes away. Maybe because I’m the one in control, so the waves and moves of the car are created by me, whereas when I’m a passenger, everything feels in unexpected jerks and uncomfortable motion and I can’t control it or anticipate it, so I feel sick to my stomach.

    To drive, on the other hand, feels freeing. I can think, I can sing, I can make up stories in my head, I can (as you say) go with the flow of the traffic… it’s a lovely ride.

    Anyway, sounds like you need to take a long car trip and take a lot of photos. 😉

    Like

    • It’s so funny that you mention being a “bad” passenger, because I’ve always been the same! (Being up front is usually fine, but if you put me in the back seat, that far removed from control of the vehicle? Forget it! I can’t do that for very long.) Something about having no connection with the steering wheel or the pedals seems to make me feel entirely disconnected from the suspension of the car, somehow, and that doesn’t seem to sit right with me. (The one time I ever rode in a limo — I was part of some group in high school for a friend’s — who had rich parents — birthday, and they did some whole thing, I think because it was her 16th — I did NOT care for it at all. The super-cushy suspension, coupled with being so far from the front axle of the car, was just… borderline nightmarish for me. Isn’t that bizarre?)

      Like you say, I also think it’s to do with anticipation of the movement of the car, too. (Just like someone else can tickle you, but you really can’t tickle yourself. Brains are so weird.)

      You are definitely right about one thing, though: I need to be taking more photos!

      Like

    • I did! Thank you! I just imported it over from my instagram (which has the same handle I have everywhere but here, haha). LA being as temperate as it is, you can see some pretty amazing classics tooling around all year round.

      Thank you, as always, for all your comments, Sherry.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s