Spin the Globe with Justin Butner

A world citizen may provide value to society by using knowledge acquired across cultural contexts.

My Careening Home

Written 5 August

I’m currently I the back of my car as it hurtles along a scenic road marked at 100km/hr but built for a little less and being traveled at a little over. The car barrels forward, loaded with 4 adults and each of their sum total worldly possessions. It isn’t much stuff to say you live by, but when you try to get it all into a station wagon and leave room for the people, you are working against nature. Entropy will always win in the end. Those are the rules and I accept them. But if you practice and try enough things, if you get lucky and guess the right way, you can make entropy fall aside for a glorious moment. And it was in a car like this, each of us with at least a large backpack and two day packs, plus all the camping gear, cookware, desert safety kits of jerry cans and water coolers, a cooler, and groceries, that we set out 4 hours late on a day several later than originally planned, and yet still ahead of my estimates for when we might finally take to the road.

My car is a great thing for what it is. It is a mobile home for me, something that carries all of my stuff from Point Awesome to Point Better, something that cost me more than I wanted to pay but far less than I expected to for what I got. But it is also 20 years old. It has many replaced components, and it is an approximate vision of what it once was. The tires have tread. The shocks have been changed at some indeterminate point in the past. The transmission doesn’t feel like it is how they made it. The seats are still the original ones, unfortunately.

But the transmission has quirks. The pedals are very stiff and so driving around a city for an hour is a legitimate leg work out. Meanwhile the clutch has a very small window to engage so shifting very abruptly is quite easy. And the steering is a bit loose when the car is holding all of my stuff. When fully loaded it is prone to handle poorer and steering into turns is either not enough or feels like it will cause the car to fishtail. These are things I’ve had several months to get used to. Months in which I also got used to driving everywhere. On roadtrips between cities, even with passengers, I was always the only driver. It also means that I’ve had plenty of time to get over the need to be behind the wheel and relish the chance for new passengers to take the reins.

It also means I’m watching the learning curve from the start, conscious of what the car can do and what it might do. And from the passenger seat it is a bit of an adventure. But from the backseat, it is a terrifying rollercoaster at times. Some cars are built like that. I can take the nervous approach and think I should always drive, or I can take the laid back vacation approach and treat it like another part of the excitement of travel. Deep breath. The late afternoon sun glows through the windshield. The backlit pine farm to our left has long shadows in between the spires. The eucalypt forest to my left is aglow in hazy yellow-green glow. And this is the lighting for my adventure.

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This entry was posted on August 20, 2012 by in Australia, Queensland (Brisbane) and tagged .

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