There is something about the movement through space and the speed of the car on the open road that nourishes my soul. I would have never guessed it judging by the tepid reaction to my first car, an old off-red Datsun station wagon. It got me to high school and back home so I didn’t have to keep bumming rides after band practice. It was also a free gift from my parents. Since I could not afford to buy a car at that time, it was gratefully accepted. Once I had the car for a while, I began to realize the freedom that it offered me. I could go to the mall when I wished. I explored country roads. I took my guitar to the local winery to play music among the grape vines. I used it to help deliver newspapers on my paper route.
The first car I bought for myself was a little white Geo Metro Convertible. I was a sophomore in college with a new job and money in my pocket. I got the car new off the lot. It was love at first sight. My family and friends all told me that they could not picture me in a convertible. I was a sensible, hard-working girl, not to mention short and overweight. Convertibles were for fun, popular and tall blondes, not a geek like me. At those words, nothing could hold me back from purchasing that little car. Driving with the top down in Southern California was a pleasure that I relished. My favorite drive was Pacific Coast Highway where I could cruise at a comfortable clip with the wetlands and green rolling hills on one side and the white sand beaches on the other. Driving on that road, the problems of my life would float away as the wind blew through my hair. I held onto that car for a long time and when I finally had to accept a new vehicle, I mourned.
My current vehicle does not have the style of my former little convertible, but it is far more practical for me. It is a Honda CR-V SUV. I love the radio system, the air conditioning and that it has a moon roof. I can open up that moon roof and get a little of the sensation that I used to feel with my convertible, but now I have the capacity to haul the inventory for my business to where it needs to go. I drive to venues to sell my wares on a regular basis. The SUV can handle it. I often drive the highways of the southwest desert, heading to Las Vegas, Phoenix or Tucson. I like driving in the desert. The land is stark, but has a beauty all its own.
The heat outside the vehicle is intense during the day and gives the road a rippling look as you drive. I’m more aware of my surroundings when I travel in the desert. It can be dangerous to be caught without water if you car breaks down and when I’m the only car in sight on a desert road, I worry for my safety. Still, I do not let fear keep me from driving the desert. I keep my triple A card handy, not to mention a good jug of water. That is all I need.
When I write about how my characters feel when they travel, I like to draw on my own experiences of the rubber meeting the highway. The characters could be in a 19th century sailing ship, flying on a dragon, drifting through the asteroid belt in a spaceship, moving in a myriad of ways to travel toward that distant horizon of discovery. Translating these feelings from reality into our stories is what makes us writers.
What ideas do you take from your life and spin into stories?