Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Gearing the Difference

I'm driving a married man's car. White Honda Accord, early 90's. He lives in New York (the man, not the car). Left it here, in DC. I'm driving it to Utah, to his wife. She will meet me there and drive it the rest of the way to California. They have not seperated. He's meeting her at the airport in California. Where they will begin their new life. And I will begin my new life in Utah.

The car is manual. I'm not used to this. In fact, I'm terrible. I keep getting the shift timing wrong and the car shakes and whirrs and at the stop light I often peel out, burning the tires on the asphalt. It isn't pretty. In fact it's down-right embarassing.

I think of this car as a metaphor for my life. The transition, getting the timing right, the shakes and whirrs, bumps in the road, all that. And I keep on driving. I was driving down Columbia Pike today. Noon. Hungry. Wendy's Mediterranean Chicken Salad called me. It really called me. Sarah Jane, I taste good, remember? Columbia Pike has so many run down shops and restaurants and clubs. It reminds me of the old Sugar House area in Salt Lake, before the new shopping center with the Wild Oats market and the day spa. Passed a Bob and Edith's. Bob and Edith's holds several good memories. It's an old, greasy diner. Fabulous, calorie-laden burgers, dripping with ketchup and mayo, visions of fat fries and creamy milkshakes. A small-ish joint. You can order breakfast at night there. Pancakes and grits. Wish more places would do that. Cold pizza in the morning and pancakes at night seems like a much better plan if you ask me.

Kept on driving. I haven't had a car the whole time I've been out here (two and half years). It's not bad. Metro will take you everywhere you really need to go. But, confession, life has vastly improved since the wheels. Kept going down Columbia Pike. Discovered a much bigger and prettier Bob and Edith's. Apparently it's a chain. Who knew? Probably everyone with a car. Not me. Stopped at a light. Saw a sign for an Episcopal Church. Something I never did here was visit a church different from my own. Saw a lady at the bus stop that looked like she'd been dragged through hell. Suicide blonde, frizzy hair, dark circles under her eyes, smeared with eyeliner and deep black mascara, pale white skin, thin as a rail, dressed in all black, disheveled clothing, maybe from Good Will. How the other half live. A young latino man in a loudly colored wife beater and gold chains about his neck crossed the street but looked directly into my soul. He had bad acne. Scarred his face.

One might say these are the dregs of society. One might not want to look. I look. I want to, I have to. So different from me and I wonder about them. How interesting, how fascinating. I don't think too deeply, though, the light turns green and I peel out, with a screech of the tires. I'm transitioning gears again.

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