Dr. John Heitmann
Being one of the older members of my high school class, I received my driver’s license far earlier than almost all of my closest friends. And having grown up in the small rural town of Russia, Ohio, such an indomitable distinction was nothing short of colossal for a sixteen year old boy. I was frequently the center focus for dialogue regarding our weekend endeavors, and while I was rarely present for such discussion, you can bet that my new skill was a hot topic. The tomfoolery that would ensue throughout such weekends was certainly that of questionable legality, but to say that it was not some of the most memorable evenings of my life would be a lie. After piling four or five of my closest friends into my 2003 white Pontiac Gran Prix, the possibilities of our night were endless. Sometimes we simply drove around listening to vulgar music drinking old Dr. Pepper. Other times we might have shot bottle rockets at unsuspecting cows, whooping in approval after a particularly magnificent shot found its target and we drove away into the dark country night. It seems almost whimsical that I have my car to thank for so many of those wonderful Friday and Saturday nights, the means of our transportation through so many of those back country roads. Such times seem distant, but every time I jump back into that white Grand Prix, I can distinctly float back to those small town nights, if only temporarily.
The first impression I had of my car was not one of biting excitement, but lackluster liberation. I remember having the following exchange with my mother,
“So…what do you think?”
“What’s wrong with white?!”
My unsuspecting mother hardly shared my opinion of what a white car meant: a girl was driving it. You see, I had always conjured up the image of the kind of car I had always seen myself in, and time after time the only color I associated with such thoughts was black. No color better translated that smooth, dark, charismatic feel of power. Over time, however, I was able to outgrow such a prejudiced opinion of my car, and I soon learned to love it. Its dependability alone won over my favor quicker than any other car could have done. Through all of the wince induced braking, dings, and scratches, my car tolerated the beating like a heavyweight champ. Those scratches and faults now represent the relationship my car and I share, something far too few teenagers are blessed with.
Today my car sits outside of my college house collecting dust and pizza deal flyers. I can’t honestly say that it means as much to me now as it did five years ago. The wonder and majesty that comes with that freedom of driving simply does not stir in my heart the way it used to. I guess it’s just another step closer to packing up my gear and learning what the ‘real world’ holds in store. Yet, as that time continues to rapidly approach, I always jump at the opportunity to pile into that same old Pontiac Gran Prix with the same old buddies to enjoy another night of unbridled youth, even if our belts are a little bit tighter.