Everyone I know, everywhere I go
People need some reason to believe
— the prophet browne
You’re driving to the store. It’s late. You’re tired. You just want to go to bed.
The engine is doing its impression of the little wooden roller coaster in San Diego. Weeeee-ooooo. Weeee-oooo. Yes, that’s a technical car term. It’s like two pistons just decided to go on vacation. Likely to San Diego to ride the roller coaster. You are not amused.
You spent $6,500 a month ago to get everything in the engine replaced. A new car! the mechanic exclaimed. And now your new car won’t run.
Life has been sending you messages lately. The “How I Met Your Mother” episode where they let the beloved Fiero die just a few tenths short of 200,000 miles rather than spend $3,000 to get it fixed. Two consecutive days of the pig family cartoon where their old car breaks down on a family drive. They borrow a new car with six buttons in one episode and an aeroplane in the other and seem much happer. Is this the cosmos giving you a wake-up call?
You were just contemplating driving this car to Texas. 840 miles through nothing. And now it won’t make it to the grocery store. You get it fixed again, you cross your fingers, and something else will happen. WHY?
And then you realize. It’s a metaphor. Lordy, you love metaphors.
This car is your running.
You’re old. You’re running on two cylinders. You keep trying to fix it, but in the end, it will never be fixed. It’s like the mechanic once wrote when asked what to do about the smoke, “Nothing. It’s old. Old cars smoke.”
You try things. New surfaces, new diets, new variations. But at the end of the day, you’re old. You have a monkey heart. It doesn’t work. It’s time. Let it go.
“In ’69 I was 21 and I called the road my own,” the prophet Browne once wrote of his life. “I don’t know when that road turned onto the road I’m on.”
That’s the thing about life. You’re driving on this endless road. It’s easy to miss the changes along the way, until one day the car starts making that noise. Weeeee-ooooo. Weeee-oooo. And you can’t ignore it any longer.
You look for the phone number for KJZZ, the local public radio station. They pick junker cars up as a donation. You figure it’s as good an end as any. You spent countless years listening to Car Talk there. Tom and Ray would say let it go. And you never really liked running that much anyhow. So sweaty.
And then you do it.
You put on the ridiculously old Piranhas and go out to drive the car back to the shop. Maybe it’s an easy fix. And you got an email yesterday that the new Wonder Shoes are waiting at the apartment office. Maybe these shoes will be what you need for running to start clicking again.
You drive off, singing Aretha Franklin in your head. As long as she’s alive, things will be OK.
Weeeee-ooooo. Weeee-oooo. Life on the roller coaster …