This I Believe

Kate - Petaluma, California
Entered on December 11, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
Themes: environment

I believe in car rides.

For as long as I can remember, car rides have been one of the most relaxing things for me. Every year over Christmas my family and I pile skis, my dog, presents, and warm clothes into our old mini van and drive from Northern California where we live all the way to Vail, Colorado. This trip would seem to be the worst nightmare for the classic aloof teenager, but I’ve grown extremely fond of the trip. I feel like I become a different person in those short two days, cooped in a ten-foot space with my family. We drive through different sceneries, each inspiring a new mood in each of us; the first is the mountains and starry skies and snow of Tahoe, which we always pass through at night. The next day is speeding through never-ending barren valleys enclosed by snow capped mountains, and then the small portion of Colorado that we drive through is the type of magical wonderland you see in children’s books, with feet of glimmering white snow and tree branches stooped with snow buildups.

I love this trip. I move so fast during the school year, never stopping to appreciate what I have, and just trying to move through to the break I will get, which is Christmas. Then I have seventeen hours of pure contemplation time, with no distractions and no worries. I love being in the car. Throughout the whole year, I dream of the steady whirr of the wheels moving underneath me, the warmth of the heater and a blanket, a tape we’ve all heard a million times playing, my dog sleeping in the back seat. I love the gas station snacks we buy at nearly every stop. When I was younger, I would silently pray for my dad to ask me if I wanted anything, because I didn’t want to ask him myself.

But it’s not only this trip that explains why I love being in the car. I love it no matter what. I think being in the car is like experiencing a fragments of the world we live in, sped up and slowed down. In the car, we move by many different points in the world, and each of those points is imprinted into our minds and inspires something different, either big or little. It can be driving to the local supermarket, or driving to Colorado, or driving to school. It can be under the stars or under the sun, or in the rain. It can be anything you make it, and each location has a different definition. Rolling the windows down and turning up the music is a key element for full appreciation of the experience. There is an overwhelming feeling of perfection that comes over me; it’s the mix of the sun or stars and music and wind. At home, one of my favorite car rides is driving to the beach at sunset. There is an unexpected golden light that dusts the hills and the road and the car and fills every corner of the world it seems, and that light is not something that can be contained.

Riding in the car is one of the only places that I’ve experienced so far where I feel completely content with my life. For now, I’m okay with that.