I bought my Chevy Malibu around 10 years ago, mid-move from Houston to San Francisco. Halfway across the country, my previous car died a rather sudden but quiet death, leaving me with two choices: stay in Texas, or trade in the car and keep going. Given that this entire blog has been written during a decade in California, I don’t need to tell you which option I took.
The thing about SF is that you can very happily exist without a car, particularly if you, like me, live and work inside the city’s seven-by-seven miles. And so, my Malibu made it through nine years of San Francisco living with under 60,000 miles on its clock. San Diego is a different town, though, and I’m living 30 miles north of the city. For the first time in my entire life, I’m commuting a few days a week. I’m not a huge fan of it – I hate traffic and the aggression that seems to erupt from my fellow humans when confronted with five lanes of brake lights. Despite my low mileage, my CD player also recently broke. San Diegans apparently listen to a whole lot of 80s ad 90s rock (and not kind that I personally enjoy), so the radio isn’t my favorite situation here.
Instead, I find myself driving down the road babbling incoherently at myself.
I can’t help but wonder what my fellow commuters might thing, catching sight of me in the car. Thankfully, we live in the era of bluetooth, so I suppose I pass as someone having a very animated phone call. At least, that’s what I keep telling myself.
I’ve never been a car person in the slightest, but I am finally starting to see the appeal of having a particularly comfortable car. We spent several hundred dollars repairing my air conditioning, which broke years ago, and I feel like I’m living a life of total luxury! I’ve even pondered spending some cash on getting a nicer sound system – one that links to my phone, so maybe I could actually be talking to another human being instead of myself.
Then, of course, I balk against the idea of spending money on my car. It feels so incredibly materialistic, so… typical, somehow. And I realize that this is yet another way that I’ve defined myself as uniquely San Franciscan.
That’s a funny thing, the definition of oneself, isn’t it? Sometimes it feels expansive: I am _____! Other time, though, it feels limiting, like a border I’ve set around myself. I wonder where the edges are, and what’s beyond them.