This I Believe

Claire - los angeles, California
Entered on May 26, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: creativity
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I believe in automobiles.

I just finished my first year of law school in Los Angeles. I want to be powerful and influential. But believing in cars is not all about showing off.

I think cars are like beautiful works of art, models of genius and artistry that all beholders can appreciate. My mom is the original auto fan in the family. Every year she talked about importance of knowing the safest trends among the auto companies, and we’d go to the car show to see them. As we children came of age, we DID breeze past the Volvos and the Camrys, and picked up brochures….but the real reason we went…was for the beauties.

First, the American Muscle Cars: Corvettes, Camaros, bright reds, racing stripes, blazing dart shapes, massive engines. Then, the “Exotic Room”; Ferraris, Mazaratis: “Do not touch” signs taunted our fingers as we reached for the fantastic shimmers that were even lower to the ground than we were as small children.

During my college years in Philadelphia, my brother would send me hundreds of photos from the car shows. I awaited bleak months of trudging in bulky boots to class, my life resembling the monotony of a small scene inside of a snow globe. But I dreamt of the sun, and my favorite convertible: 1964 SL Mercedes 350 in white: with updated safety features to make my mom happy.

I’ve never much known about combustions or engineering. I just like how cars make me feel.

The quick turn response and acceleration of a high performance car, the calming effect of the mindless shifting of the hands and feet.

The way they move through the city in orderly patterns. The Doppler effects of the freeways.

Inside of each one is a person who is so happy to be the captain of her own ship. Some aggressively dominating the roadway, some fearful and determined. Some, slow and steady, watching the city move by like the rotating backdrop of an old movie.

To anyone who loves her car, just like a child, you step back from it, open your heart, and its the most beautiful one in the lot.

I thought of writing this essay when I walked into a coffee shop, just minutes after careening through an exam. Wow. I messed up. I was red with tears.

Until a 1962 Cadillac convertible pulled up. Light blue with big wheels; big fins and BIG lights. It was in perfect condition. Timelessly stylish and classic – for 44 years someone has loved it, and never thrown it away; it’s kept purring, pushing, maneuvering, waiting, stalling, and recovering year after year…and most ditch their cars in less than 10…but someone gave that old girl a second, third, fourth chance.

I thought of my mom, and myself as a little girl, and how cars meant freedom. Cars meant memories and moving on. I looked at the car for a long time, inviting its owner to “get moving!” “There’s places to go and fun to be had!.”

And I thought to myself “It’s only a test.”