I drive a 1990 4-wheel drive Jeep Cherokee. But I’ve occasionally been driving my sons new Toyota 4-Runner when I take my grandson out for some one-on-one time. I love that vehicle. Feels really safe. Big mirrors. Air bags. Automatic door locks, windows and alarm. Everything is automatic. Good sound system. It’s comfortable and easy to drive. Feels secure. Feels insulated. And I feel like I’m protected with maximum insurance coverage.
I also feel a strange sense of isolation when I’m driving the 4-Runner. And it’s not just his truck that has that effect on me. It’s just about every new car I’ve driven, or ridden in, over the years. I’m really happy for my son that he has that truck. It’s a good utilitarian vehicle. And it will serve him well.
But I like my Jeep because it bounces around like an old tractor, or a stagecoach. Makes me feel like I’m connected to the vehicle, by extension, connected to the road, and by even further extension, connected more intimately to life. I like feeling connected that way. I need it somehow.
The Cherokee makes a lot of sounds that are not necessarily innate to its operation. Parts wearing down. Parts wearing out. Other parts working extra hard just to keep up with the general flow of things. Has a lot of squeaks, and the sound of wind coming through the cracks. Visually, it has scratches, some worn paint and a lot of rough edges. Has a ding in the corner of the windshield that I’m sure I’d miss if the windshield was ever replaced. The Jeep’s usually unwashed, not really dirty, just not really clean. The drivers seat is not as solid as it once was, reformed from its original shape. 135,000 miles of fanny on that cushion. But I like that. It reminds me that life changes as it goes, that it does not maintain itself like it began. That it shapes itself around us as we add miles along the way.
I think life is more like my old jeep, than it is like any new car.
I’m comfortable in this truck. Not comfortable like a nice pair of slacks is comfortable, but like an old worn pair of jeans. The kind you hope will hold up for another washing.
And another wear. . .