That’s a strange photo for a blog post to be written around, but I’ll try my best to describe it’s importance. It’s a still taken from an unreleased video I made the summer before last which is just me longboarding around my hometown and visiting old places of interest and nostalgia. It really wasn’t very good, but I’ve always enjoyed filming the footage more than actually making something out of it.
But it was a common sight that summer, looking over the passenger seat and seeing a faithful piece of bamboo reflect the warm sun around the dark grey interior. This shot in it’s video form shows the shadows of leaves in the trees lining old streets as they stream in, gently waving. The sound is sort of like a waterful or TV static. That white noise of wind. I sat in my car listening to bands I hadn’t heard since high school and staring out the window. It’s an understated activity, really. People see people staring out of windows and describe them as ‘doing nothing’ but it’s hardly a fair observation of what’s actually happening; in that moment I was simply being. I was parked across the street from a perpendicular road (think a large T that I was at the top intersection of) that has a perfect hill for cruising. Just steep enough that you can get some good speed and work into deeper carving, but not so steep that you fear for your ability to stop or bail. It’s a road that is lined with large, old trees and is in the general area of a small indoor pool we used to take swimming lessons at as kids. Beyond it is my elementary school where we were sometimes picked up in the very car I was sitting in then.
Cars as an interior space are an interesting thing because all of my memories come from the same viewpoint: my driver’s seat. With exception to a few from when I was a kid sitting in the back, most of what I know in that car is from the exact same vantage. The result of that is sort of a timelapse, where the time can be sped up to show the surroundings without confusion, because of the fixed angle. Most other spaces – interiors of buildings, for example – would speed up like a movie would, with cuts and scenes that happen all over. They’re all in the same space, but they can’t be compressed or played back in the same way.
And not that my nostalgia would be interesting to anyone but me, but it’s weird to think about all the people who’ve sat in that other seat. Or things, like the longboard or cameras or pizza. The handful of chairs I’ve managed to stuff into the tiny car and bring home. Lumber that’s stretched from the very front of the dash to the very back of the hatch (exactly 8′). My computer tower, seatbelted in and surrounded by blankets and pillows that time I came home for Christmas month school break. Guys and girls, conversations both heavy and giggled. The awkward silence of giving someone you don’t know very well a ride home. The acceleration-challenged rides with four guys crammed in and dancing to some ridiculous song on the radio. The hours spent parked in usual spots just talking and watching the sun set. The time spent alone, or talking to the car herself. Space exists in relation to the people occupying it, and in a lot of ways the car interior is the ultimate space for holding memories, simply because it’s there in so many contexts.
I bought a new car. I’m deeply excited, of course, but there’s a lot of me that’s bitter-sweet about giving up what amounts to one of my longest standing loves. It’s not to say I don’t have good friends but these past years have been filled with new cities, new people and new places – the physical thread that’s always been there has been this one car.