Thursday, April 16, 2009

NaPoWriMo #14: cars

I almost didn't know where to begin with the "road trip" prompt at Read Write Poem, since the subject of cars is highly evocative for me.

My parents were in the middle of their divorce the summer I took driver's ed, so taking me out to practice driving wasn't high on their list of priorities. Frankly, nerves were so raw (on all sides) when I did practice, it was a blessed relief to get a D and opt out by sheer failure.

I didn't get my driver's license until I was 21 and moved to California to be a missionary. Learning to drive in the Bay Area permanently stunted my driving style and it has taken years for me to unlearn my aggressive tendencies. The lead foot I will never unlearn—it's genetic—but parenthood has tamed (lamed?) it, and I usually drive right at the limit when my kids are in the car.

My first car, which I bought in 1993, was a burgundy 1989 Toyota Corolla, just like the mission cars I had driven in California. I paid for it myself, but was so broke after the down payment I had to borrow from my folks to pay for insurance. I've posted before about my tradition of naming vehicles, and Rosie Rolla was my first. I drove it for the next nine years, until Jim and I traded it in on a brand new gunmetal gray Camry (named Felix) as a graduation present to ourselves. I think the salesman saw us coming; the first feature he pointed out was the three child seat anchors in the back seat.

We're a Toyota family, between Rosie, Felix and the Batmobile (Jim's black 1992 Toyota pickup), but if I were ever to own the car of my dreams, it would be a 1969 Volkswagen Karmann Ghia convertible. Red, of course. Maybe someday.

I think the VW love goes back to our first family car I remember from when I was a kid, a blue VW squareback. I vaguely recall an old white Ford we may have had before the squareback, as well as a succession of cars after, but the squareback is the one I remember fondly, being buckled in the back seat and sometimes up front if it was just me and Dad, in the days before child car seats.

Are We There Yet?

You and mom up front
me and Lee in back
too little then to know
let alone remember now
why we were on the way to California
all I remember is a blur
riding the Nut Tree Railroad
straight streets lined with palm trees
driving through a wildlife preserve
and how even rolled up windows
failed to muffle the profanity
coming from under our dark blue hood

four of us packed in a squareback
white vinyl sticking to our backs and legs
leaving its impression of raised dots
marching across our clammy skin
windows rolled down
still failed to cool tempers
only made our hair stringy
plastered it across sweaty foreheads
blew it into our mouths
while we yelled at each other

you had pinned a yellow button
with a smiling face
to the back of your visor
for so much of that trip
it was the only face to smile
I coveted it from the back seat and
you promised me I could have it
if I would be a good girl
if I would just stop asking.

1 comment:

No Cool Story said...

"four of us packed in a squareback
white vinyl sticking to our backs and legs..."

I LOVE this part ;) Genius!