My car here in paradise is a total wreck, but it also happens to be my favourite car I’ve ever driven.
Often, the connection to the battery bumps itself completely off the terminal and it won’t start. Sometimes I get a flat tire from the uneven road surfaces littered with debris. My AC is stuck on blasting icy winds of the Antarctic in my face*. Permanently, the radio is stuck on one particular station and one particular volume. And there’s nothing I can do to fix it and no way to turn it off.
My car is a mess. Blue paint work bubbling in the sun and flaking off like rust. Dashboard sticky to touch, plastic reforming in the heat. Without warning, the controls on my radio will sometimes light up. For ten minutes I fiddle with the music only to quickly put it back to its original settings because.
Invariably, the controls stop working.
When I drive over a speed bump on the right day, at the right angle, the radio jumps to another station seemingly at random. Luckily there are quite a few speed bumps around here. In general I can switch it back by driving over another one at the same speed and angle.
My car might not even be roadworthy in most countries but I love it more than any other car in recent memory. And I’ve been thinking a lot about why this is. And how objects hold significance in people’s lives and in books because of how much I care for my car.
In my most recent manuscript I’m writing about a captain who loves his spaceship like a person too. Before moving to the Caribbean and buying this car I got that some people fiercely loved objects that were flawed but I never really got loving a vehicle. I never really understood writing loving inanimate objects like cars. They have never been a thing for me. Until now. Until this car.
Is it that she’s seen be through the hardest time of my life, when I was still shaking from the emotional supernova of a break up? Is it that she’s always erring slightly towards breaking down and, in some ways, when I found her I was too? Somehow I’ve attached something deeply personal to my car. Like hooking a thin piece of string around the steering column and attaching it to a corner of my heart.
Ciro has done that too with his ship. And now I finally understand what it is to place a part of yourself in something that’s not alive. It hardly matters to him the liability of the ship, that it might break down at any given point on his journey. Like me, he’s determined to just keep her running. He’s trying to keep alive a part of himself he superglued to the rust on her hull a long time ago.
Writing loving inanimate objects has never been hard for me, but something has recently really clicked for me.
How is your writing going?
* This is vastly vastly better than it not working at all so I can’t complain