There exists a cliché: Home is where the heart is. So where has
my heart been this past summer? It certainly hasn’t been at my house, or in my yard, or even in my hometown. To me,
home is just another word for the place that makes you who you really are. Ironically enough, it seems as though home has
come to me in the form of a car.
I spent quite a bit of quality time with myself this summer. Driving.
Just driving. The day trips would usually commence with remnants of hard feelings from an argument I’d had with my mom
just before leaving the house. I loved the feeling of grabbing the keys—my keys—starting up the car and barreling
backwards or forwards out of my driveway. I don’t care what people say. There was no better feeling in the world than
having that steering wheel in the grasp of my hand. There was one time, however, when I would have prayed to be anywhere but
that very place.
Sometimes, the bad experiences people go through with a certain
person or thing or in a certain place can greatly strengthen their relationship with it. That is what happened to me after
my car accident, and why my car would become my home.
As I made a right turn off my street, I was careful not to over
accelerate because I knew the temperature was below freezing. Thin layers of ice glazed the road deceptively hidden beneath
an even thinner layer of snow. Tire tracks from vehicles curved and twisted in directions at random. I accelerated carefully,
once again reminded of the fact that I was running late for school. It was concurrently seven thirty, and I needed to be there
by seven forty-four so I could make it into homeroom before the bell rang. The problem was that it would take about seventeen
minutes just driving the speed limit to make it there. But making it there seemed to be the bigger problem right then. As
I hit about thirty-five miles per hour, I approached a leftward bend that appeared as normal as any other point on the road.
Still, I took my foot off the accelerator.
People tell me that I was going too fast for conditions. I was,
but I didn’t know it would turn out this way. My car began to sway uncontrollably from the back end. The front seemed
to turn sideways on a blur of a road; then, without warning, my body was about to be physically beat up; and there would be
nothing I could do to stop it. I was all the way on the other side of the road by then. I cut the wheel hard to the right
to avoid going over the edge of the other side of the road; but it was too late, and my last second actions made the car flip
over. Feelings of death, feelings of the end, and feelings of a lack of ability to control it led me to pray for my life as
I held on in order to endure the roll.
The car ended up on its tires and it had spun around. I was facing
the opposite way, but I was confused about it at first. I couldn’t make sense of where I was. Then, it quickly came
to me as a shock that I was quite far off course. As I looked down on my hand and saw blood from my head, I cried. I had just
completely demolished the car my dad had bought and had put money into fixing up for me.
I pulled out my cell phone and confirmed my mother’s worst
fear. From a minute away, she came to my aid in what seemed like five minutes. During that time, I’d called my high
school and let the secretary know what happened and that I wouldn’t be coming in. I also called my girlfriend’s
mom and told her what happened. After my mom arrived, there was tremendous emotion on both ends, and she called a neighbor
for help. My girlfriend called me back on my cell phone, crying hysterically. My mom told me to get off the phone so we could
take care of the situation. She took me to the emergency room, where I cried one last time that day, on her right shoulder.
Needless to say, that feeling of the wheel in my grip and the
gas pedal under my toes is an addictive feeling. A feeling that a driver waits for a long time, and when it’s gone,
he or she wants it back badly. Immediately after the accident, I didn’t want to get behind the wheel. I needed a break
from it until I could set aside the recollections of my close call. But as time went on, I felt the need more and more for
that feeling. I needed to drive again.
I appreciated being able to drive a lot more after the privilege was
lost. I valued the experience greater, and I took advantage of every opportunity this summer after finally saving enough money
to buy a new car. This one was hard-earned. Not as nice as the first one, but I paid for it with money I saved for months,
so I was forced to do with what I could.
So, it was home on the road for me this summer, traveling everywhere
in western Pennsylvania. Whether with a friend or going to meet friends, or just by myself going to work or nowhere in particular,
music was an extension of myself; and I made sure it played as loud as audibly possible.
Home on the road this summer took me to places deeper than places
people can drive to. Driving led me to know myself better—my limits and abilities—and build self-confidence. This
was just one way that going through an experience has strengthened my relationship to what it was connected to—and made
it my home. Now that I’m in college, I long for the next I’ll get to go home—where I’ll once again
be reunited with my gas pedal and my steering wheel.