by Lisa

A dream dictionary landed on my desk last week.  I had complained about getting little rest, because my head goes zoom all night.  I drive through mountains with no roads and on long straight paths through salt flats.  In my dreams, I go fast, my wheels stick to the road like I’m on rails and I wake up with my heart racing. My cousin/employer/friend took note and brought a reference book from his days as a dream hotline operator.

Yes, that’s a job.

During waking hours, I am cautious and obey the rules of the road, except for the sudden smattering of speeding tickets last year.  My car rides so smoothly that going 80 doesn’t feel like 80.  I’ve learned my lesson, and now, I barely go the speed limit.  Back to my old, easy ways.

I only drive to class and to work, and work keeps me as sharp as other parts of this life-education situation.  We talk about lots of things at work: gun laws to stock fluctuations to dream interpretation to extraterrestrial life to the virtues of a good station wagon.  Pretty soon, some car swapping will happen among us, so lately, we’ve talked about what we like to drive. I’ve been dreaming of a different car since I had to bring my small person’s new bicycle home sticking out of the sunroof.  Coupes have no cargo space at all.  Trunks are for people who think that they only need to carry a spare and a jack.

My vehicles had always carried whatever we might need to do anything, go anywhere, for any length of time.  That’s freedom. I dream of big steering wheels, tow packages, roof racks, and trailers.  My cousin has three vehicles and only needs two, so I am taking one.  He’s keeping an impractical, cushy SUV with an engine that needs some love, and a wagon. He won’t part with that wagon for any price, but the older Jeep can be lent out to me, family, employee, trusted person, temporarily or permanently.  We’ll see.  I’m curious to know if I’ll drive it and feel that “oh-what-a-relief-I-must-own-this-thing-forever” feeling, or if it’ll  show me what I really want.  A forever car is what I’m looking for at this point in my life.  I’d wanted to keep my beloved Blazer forever.  Eleven years in my first vehicle was a good run, but I didn’t know then what I know now about saving the equivalent of a small monthly car payment in case of big repairs.  I did the small ones myself.  Things were different in 1983, room to crawl under and room to dive in.

Do cars even have carburetors any more?  No one talks about carburetors.  I miss conversations about rebuilding rather than replacing.  A monkey with a little money can rebuild old parts, but now, we just throw out the old and stick in a new.  Makes me uneasy, really.

My non-cousin/other co-worker/friend  has exactly my now-car but with a smaller engine.  He loves it, has owned two or three in a row, considered it his own forever car. He also has a new baby, and a two-door anything does not work well with a car seat.  He’s mourning the coming loss of his version of our accidentally matched cars. I’m celebrating the loss of mine.

My small person will celebrate gaining anything with four doors and room for the whole household including the dog. I value her input, and I choose to act upon her opinions whenever possible.  She has a great point there.  She is less than five feet tall and must go all origami to fit into the back seat of our two-door vehicle. The dog looks at me like I’m crazy when I ask him to sit back there, so he rides up front now, head touching the sunroof glass. I do think he feels like the front seat is an upgrade.  At first, I expected him to be uncomfortable, because he prefers the back of his daddy’s car, but the front seat of mine gives him a fine view and opportunity to stare down other drivers when we are stuck in traffic, eye to eye.  The dog appreciates a good double-take and a wave. He actually wants to drive, always calling dibs on that seat, but he just can’t turn the key yet, thank goodness.

My current car serves a fine purpose: I move a limited number of passengers from place to place reliably, but the inner workings are too complicated. I can change oil and tires and wipers and air filters and thermostats, and sometimes, a bad hose.   I can diagnose issues based on smell and sound. I used to be able to do more things before cars had computers in them.  I like old thing best.  I like old cars, but with gas prices so high, old cars are just dream cars.

My dreams always include cars.  Last night, I sped along a winding wooded road with sometimes Betty Draper and sometimes Don in a small pink Mustang convertible as gorgeous as they were.  Betty stalled the engine and told me to go find a phone.  I told her that she needed to get out of the driver’s seat and let me make that machine GO.

It did.

I hollered something about giving it hell and popping a clutch, and I left Betty/Don standing in the road in my dust and flew around curves, not caring if another car got clipped.

A little voice of caution told me to slow down, be careful, you’ll get in trouble.

I woke up happy.  Caution doesn’t get a say in my dreams.