I had a dream once where I was in a sketchy neighborhood well past midnight. I had parked my car and was going to walk the few blocks to my destination, terrified, until it occurred to me that I could just drive those last few blocks. In the dream, I turned back. I was still scared but I knew if I could make it to my car, everything would be okay.
I believe in dreams as a way your mind processes things you can’t yet piece together in consciousness. It’s why some dreams are difficult to interpret, but this one was easy: I find a lot of security in my car.
So a few weeks ago, when she began to have a hard time starting, my anxiety became crushing. And the day my mom suggested I get a new one instead of putting the money into fixing her, a coworker found me practically sobbing at my desk.
This car has been a living room, dining room, bedroom, and even changing room for me. It’s been a reading room, a prayer room, and a shoulder to cry on. I don’t think of all cars as being imbued with a “spirit.” Just this one, Layla, and she takes care of me.
(Side note: don’t let your kids watch Toy Story. They will grow up to have seven boxes of stuffed animals and a car they refuse to get rid of.)
This is the car I took my driver’s test in, the car I broke up with my boyfriend in (twice now), the car I drove to Chapel Hill and Orlando and that was there for me when I inevitably had people-trouble. There have been a lot of people come and go in my life, even ones I was sure I’d never lose, but Layla hasn’t failed me yet. She likes to go as fast as I do and yet, somehow, she refuses to go over the speed limit right before we pass a cop I can’t see yet. We’ve been stuck in traffic when her gas light comes on and then turns off again, as if she’s just giving me a heads up that she need gas as soon as possible, but that we’ll be all right until traffic lets up. Before we got her water pump fixed, her heat gauge would read as dangerously high…until I coaxed her down or described all the adventures we were going to go on.
She’s been very good to me.
There are a lot of people worried about me as I plan future trips because I have no problem traveling alone. But the truth, at least for the ones I’m looking at now, is that I never really thought about it as being alone. It’s always been “Me and Layla, On the Road.”
One day, I will probably have to get a new car…but this one still has some adventures to go on. There’s no doubt in my mind about that.