'The intimate relationship I've always taken for granted'
It's finally hit me. My car knows me better than I know myself.
This article was originally published on Kidspot.
I remember my first car. It was a white, beat up hatchback that was already 15 years old when I bought it. It was a manual and my boyfriend and I replaced the grip on the gearstick with a pool ball we 'found' at the pub. Red stripe. Number 7.
That car was my freedom. At 20, I may not have been able to afford to move out of home yet, but my car allowed me to dictate my own hours - I could escape my family whenever I wished. Drive up the hill from university to sit on the back porch with friends. Rugged up against the freezing Blue Mountains air, we would pull out our instruments and play music late into the night.
That car was my getaway vehicle. Throwing the tent and some clothes into the boot before charging up the mid-north coast was sweeter than any wine. I didn't need a boyfriend, because thanks to that car I had the sea, I could hop out anywhere along that endless stretch of coastline to immerse myself joyfully beneath the waves. It was glorious.
But in my mid-twenties I sold the car to travel.
My car and my life separated. I lived out of backpacks, rode bicycles and slept on more trains, planes and buses than I will ever remember. I forgot what it was like to even own a car. I forgot what it was like to sleep in the same bed for more than a week.
I forgot home.
Falling pregnant made me realise that I couldn't carry my life on my back and a baby in my belly at the same time.
I stopped travelling.
I came home.
I got another car.
It's nothing fancy. It's an automatic. It's fuel efficient. And it has a baby seat. Now.
When the baby was yet to crawl, that car was my saviour. Not even grandma can compete with my car when it comes to reliability and consistency in putting a baby to sleep. And by the light of the sun as it warmed the windscreen, those car naps became the best kind of me time. Me time where I can't see the madness of our kitchen. Me time that forced me to be still. Just recline that seat, put your feet on the steering wheel and rest, while the bubba grunts and snoozes in the back.
As the baby wobbled up on to his awkward feet, his desire to conquer great distances whilst upright, was often thwarted by his lack of fuel efficiency. And for this my car became my wingman. Together we'd collude to take the toddler to more circular fields - where he could run until wrecked, and the car could ferry him home.
The car has stayed with me while my little boy grows. It's his escort to daycare, it carries my makeup case, my reusable coffee cup and a few hundred small dinosaurs. Sometimes I find biscuits between the seats, and it regularly gifts my son with sultanas from the door handles.
And as my son's grown, it seems my relationship with my car has come full circle. We take trips up the coast on the spur of the moment. It waits patiently while we trundle through rainforest and find star fish in rock pools. When we return, it gently rocks my boy to sleep on the way back home.
Because my car is my castle, my wingman, my getaway vehicle.
Only now, instead of using it to escape my home, I'm taking my family with me.