Monday through Friday at 8:10am, I’m standing at the other ends of two leashes as my dogs traipse through creeping English ivy and carefully and slowly circle a spot before they shit on it. We pause multiple times on our morning walk for my male dog to balance on three feet, dick pointed awkwardly and unsuccessfully at whatever he is peeing on.
They drag me out of the house. I drag them reluctantly back in, and rapidly unleash them with a couple of clicks, throwing the leashes in a heap on the kitchen island.
Gym bag, a purse, and two lap tops are heavily slung over shoulders. The air conditioner is set to 78 degrees. The blinds are drawn up with a rapid “zing” so my dogs can bark at the neighbors all day.
And I’m off.
Down the stairs, and to my vehicle, my bags sway and bump against my thighs and ass as I rush to my car. I throw what I can in the back seat slamming the door. I cut sideways into the driver’s seat, and by the time I slam my door shut, my key is already turning in the ignition.
I check my rear view mirror quickly to make sure no kids from the school bus stop have ended up behind my car when I rapidly back out (the middle school boys have taken up throwing a football up and down the small street I live on, some running barefoot, some running with shoes untied, all getting hopelessly sweaty before their morning classes).
My car engine isn’t warm, but I’m racing over speed bumps, hearing the back end of my car thump down as I accelerate. I get angry when I exit the development if I have to wait for a left-turner that won’t pull up to leave me enough room. I cringe when I pull out, hoping no one is rapidly changing lanes to fill the gap in traffic I’m pulling into. I’m glancing for cops. I’m trying to decide whether I should listen to the audio book, the radio, or a cd of my buddy’s band. I’m staring at the bumper, dirt patterns in the back window of the car in front of me, or pondering the symbols I see on random stickers on various cars around me. I’m glancing at the clock in my car. I’m checking the time on my phone. I’m wondering if I’ll be able to find the nail file underneath all of the straw wrappers, q-tips, and case-less cd’s I have in my front console.
I don’t hate the other “cars” or rather people in them. They’re just like me… with most likely work as a destination. I hate rolling. And I mean rolling instead of driving. Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll. Stop. Roll. I feel like I know where every bush and flower is in every yard between my home and work, as my commute takes me winding slowly through two-way streets in some residential areas. I see the other cars, but I don’t really see them.
I don’t enjoy the time in my car. I disappear. I am most literally on the grid… but I feel like my soul has dropped off of it and gone somewhere away from me until the time I am able to exit my car and can walk about and pour my morning coffee, jolting myself when the tepid liquid comes in contact with my front teeth. The commute has lost almost all of its magic. I’ve stopped seeing most things. I could recreate them from memory in my head so there is no need to see them fresh.
Now I really know why we dream and imagine. It’s things like commutes to work, which is not an entirely negative experience that drive us upward and out of the real world. The commute is a compulsory experience for most, and has been at least at one time in their lives for most. We wish for a break from it. We want to look at the skyline and see King Kong. In fact, we can project him there in our minds if we like. We can imagine darkness, a strobe light, and a few disco balls in the subway train. We can imagine flying through the air like the Jetson’s.
Why can’t the commute be different? Actually, what if it was?
What if, when I rolled to a stop at a light behind a Buik with a “Save Lives” bumper sticker, I looked to my right and saw this…
What if there were more of them? What if our taxis were all pink instead of yellow? What if cars had three wheels instead of four? What if the way we got to work was just as important as where we came from and where we were going?
Of course, car manufacturers and designers think of this. They know we spend a certain percentage of our lives in our cars, and they design for comfort. They also know the place of value our cars represent in our lives, and design for style.
But I love it when they design for the imagination, which is what keeps a heart beating, and the eyes looking around. It turns the ordinary into another world.
I’d like to re-imagine my commute in one of these vehicles. How happy and celebratory my passage would be. How happy we would all be to wake up in a world populated by bubbly cars. How proud we would be. How we would love to look next to us to see what car will roll up. Would we all feel like waving to each other?
Routine is wonderful, but it is also death to me. When your imagination dies, the world is stepping on you. When the world steps on you, your imagination dies. One must always re-imagine their situation. We must turn things upside down. And ask “what if?”
So tomorrow, what if? What if, in your garage right now….
What if tomorrow morning…