I crashed my car in July and am just now getting the insurance settlement. In the interim, although I have been able to walk to work and such, and all concrete practical concerns have been entirely covered, it has not been a great two months.

The thing is, I have six roommates, one of whom is my significant other. So I share a room with said significant other, and that is generally fine. There is always someone somewhere in the house, and that is and has been generally fine as well. But it has almost gotten to the point where I can no longer function, since I have no space that is actually and entirely my own.

You go upstairs and two people come in to ask questions, end up staying there for two hours. Then the socialization attracts everyone else in the house. This would be great, if it didn't so often happen in our room. I like socialization. I like my roommates a lot, for the most part. We're all pretty damn close. But I have to get out.

Losing the car just exacerbated the whole situation. I was already having trouble getting any sort of personal work done, since I need to be alone to write. Then I lost my space on wheels, my means of escape and my ability to think. I couldn't go sit in a parking lot somewhere with a novel or notebook like I've done practically once a week since I had my license, and certainly since I had a car. I can't walk anywhere in town and not be surrounded--there are approximately eight billion kids in school here, many of whom are my friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and past students, and all swarming in great waves over the streets at all hours. Even if I don't run into someone I know, wherever I go will still be quite crowded, and I can't hide behind my discman forever. It takes an awful lot of battery to maintain this sort of technological shield. Besides, constant headphones don't really agree with my ears.

My car is my room. It is where I go when I get angry or hurt or restless or confused or depressed or gloriously happy. I can do anything with it. I can scream at the top of my lungs driving up 23 to Lansing, driving down 77 to North Carolina. I can open all the windows in the middle of a snowstorm, and breathe and breathe, all by myself. I can sing without being self-conscious. I can talk to myself. I have complete control over it, and from that, over myself. I can actually relax for once.

And then the fact that it is a room on wheels certainly helps. I don't just get away from the public part of the house, from the public part of town or the people or the university. I get away from everything. I can get out of town entirely. I can go somewhere for the weekend. I can just drive circles around Ann Arbor on all the rural roads you know are out there and can find quite easily if you just get in the car and leave. I don't even need to go anywhere, just up the street to sit reading in the parking lot and save my gas mileage. And then I can come back and get back to my project or go talk to people and relax and laugh and then go upstairs to bed happy and tired.

I function much better after a good spate of driving. It is really almost the opposite of putting on a pair of headphones and trying my best to vanish. I don't lock myself away; I go out and get into everything. The windows are always open. There are always leaves and raindrops falling into the back seat, music and voices and exhaust and various different scents of air drifting in. There is always wind blowing my hair into my face and the afternoon sun glaring directly into my eyes as I turn my head westward. And so I am out in the outside as well as in my own personal space. It is the ideal situation.



ADDENDUM: qeyser, if the auto manufacturers of America think that's going to appeal to me, they're in for one hell of a kick in the head.

The Auto Manufacturers hear and obey you, chancel:

At the 2001 New York Auto Show, as well as other national and international shows, both Nissan and Honda introduced concept vehicles based around that very idea -- that younger drivers use their car as a personal space for relaxation, socialization, storage, entertainment and even work, rather than just as a means of transportation.

The concept vehicles (the "Chappo" by Nissan and the Model X by Honda), in a radical departure from the sleek and rounded look of paradigmatic modern car design, are both stout and boxy in shape with large wrap-around windows. The interior has been designed with maximum flexibility and functionality in mind -- i.e. movable, removable and reclining seats, small tables that fold out from the side-wall as well DVD/game/internet consoles and even an in-car digital camera in the Nissan. Rumor has it that in the Honda model, the interior upholstery will be removable so that, when needed, the car can be conveniently hosed out.

The target market for these vehicles is the so-called Generation Y buyers, many of whom will be purchasing their first new cars by the time these vehicles are slated for release in 2005.

Personally, though I'm supposed to be more or less Generation Y, I find that they look a bit like something that the Power Puff Girls would drive -- yet they have an eye-catching, almost pornographic allure to them. These cars will also be billed as perfect cars for the college student lifestyle; now this idea I can agree with: having been sexiled now and then I could have always used some portable work space. (And, conversely, having been displaced now and then by studious (or just plain punk-ass) roommates, I could have used some portable privacy with mood lighting ;-)

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