I was 19 when the freedom of the road became mine. My first car was a red Honda Civic hatchback. I bought it from a friend of my mother’s with all my savings and some money my grandfather had left me. My car became a second home for me and several of my friends. It was a refuge, a means of escape. It was my gateway passage to a new chapter in my life. In these new pages I was writing myself as something new. Not just in looks, or style. But a whole other person kind of new.
“Let’s swim to the moon,
let’s climb through the tide.
Penetrate the evenin’,
that the city sleeps to hide.”
“Moonlight Drive” by The Doors
from the album, Strange Days (1967)
Song Of The Day – October 5, 2011
Behind the wheel of my car, with the music blaring, and the city outside my window, I felt as if I could be anyone. I kept changes of clothes in the backseat, next to half-bottles of vodka, a spare pack of cigarettes, and two shoeboxes full of cassettes and mixtapes. In the glove box I always kept a spare red lipstick. The interior smelled like department store cologne, Marlboro 100’s, cloves, and Studio One hairspray. There was always noise going on inside. The chatter of conversation, laughter, or music playing loud. through crackly speakers. Usually it was a mix of all three.
After most nights out, still fueled from dancing and various chemicals in our bloodstream, my friends would drive around Los Angeles in search of a place to be. Sometimes we drove with no destination. Driving to just keep moving. Some nights we parked at the top of Sunset Blvd., up in the hills above Hollywood, to watch the way the moonglow mixed with the city lights below. We made wishes on falling stars and flickering neon signs. We felt as if every little thing happening around us meant everything.
That car holds so many moments of mine. Shared memories in the backseat. Exchanged kisses. Traded innocence. Whispered secrets. My Honda Civic helped us all survive all our individual backstories. Together. That car, she held stories for all of us. Pieces of who we were and who we hoped to become. It was my ever-present partner-in-crime. My solace. My safety. My companion through those long, endless seeming nights.
My Honda Civic, though fraught she was with mechanical issues and all the wear-and-tear (I really drove her ’til her end), I loved more than any other car I’ve ever had since.