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"Auto" Biography: My Life Through the Eyes of an Eleven-Year-Old Toyota Solara
Do not ask me the questions that you already know the answers to. Where was I born, how long have I lived, how did I get that crack on my left side just below my sideview mirror.
Do not ask where the forgotten dirt clinging to my creaking joints came from, but rather, ask me how it feels to have hairline fissures spreading from hidden crevices, ask me how it feels when the dust sprays my sleek sides, ask me how it feels to be a thing borrowed, battered, condemned, but always returned.
Ask me if I understand the pain of abandonment, the grass growing thick around my wheel wells and browning under my hard underbelly. Ask me what it feels like to live a stationary life as a being made for movement.
Ask the questions that you don’t want the answers to.
Ask if I have lived my life in many places and in none. Ask if I have known the sensation of stagnation, absolute, wondering if I will again see anything but the small world beyond the range of my feeble and clouded headlights.
Ask if my life has ever been overwhelmed by the staccato rhythm of house, tree, abundant dying grass. Ask if I have ever taken the time to notice the passing of crowds, going everywhere and nowhere at once.
Now ask me if I have ever known love.
Ask me if I have ever felt the dizziness of unmooring, if I have seen the miles roll away into oblivion while an endless snake of road crawls toward me, up, over my front panes, my dented right side, my wheels spinning towards something I have never seen but know, nonetheless, is there.
Ask me if I have ever driven home.
Do not ask me what color I am, what fabric makes up my insides, whether they are dingy or dirty or clean. Do not ask me if my driver’s seat is a comfortable place to sit, do not ask me if my contours will cradle you like the nest of a mother’s womb. Rather, ask me if you can come in.
Ask if there is room for you in the soft heart of my sun-battered shell. Ask me if there is room for the world, for the cacophony of small voices, for the silent masses.
Ask me if my soul is made of six-digit brevity, or if it spills over in countless tellings of places traveled, people shuttled, lives shuffled, storms shuddered.
Do not ask me if my heavy metal frame can bear the weight of the world. You will not find the answer you are looking for.
Do not ask me about the thickness of my tread, but rather have I left the type of tracks behind that only rub out after a hundred rainshowers, tracks that linger in soft sand, or even tracks that only carry the faintest murmur of white heat, dissipating before you even see them, so that it is only I that will ever really know whether or not there existed.
Do not ask me if I have ever been on a direct collision course with life. It might be more worth your while to ask me if I have ever been struck by lightning, felt the electrifying charge of the sky rock me to my rubbery foundation.
While you’re at it, why not ask me if I am at my best in the soft cool hours of the morning, or in the energizing glare of late afternoon traffic. Ask me if I prefer a soft coating of dew or the paint-tingling sizzle of a hot southern sun.
Ask me, but do not expect an answer. For in all your asking, you forget that my tongue is muffled by miles, the wind roars over my speech, and all will eventually be forgotten in the gray puff of shimmering air that hovers behind me as I purr away from you.