I’ve been terrified of driving or being in a car that is being driven ever since I left NYC a decade ago. It is the craziest, most nihilistic shit that we all get into these rocketing deathmobiles every day and fly around like it’s nothing, and nobody seems bothered by it at all. Meanwhile, people around here get their semi-automatic out of the bunker if a Girl Scout they don’t know rings their doorbell. Every time I drive, I am constantly imagining the car next to me merging into mine at 90 mph on the interstate; I’m forever bracing for the impact, imagining the wrenching crunch of it, the swirling chaos and the still silence after.
And that was before I had an infant.
I bought a Honda Civic about six years ago, a very modest, sturdy, reasonably safe little car, and I planned to own it for the rest of my life. I’ve never had any desire to have a giant vehicle — in part, because it seems especially environmentally unfriendly, and also because I find them unwieldy to drive and impossible to park. If I have to have a car at all, I want the least amount of car available, really.
But now that I have Edith, it has quickly become clear that I cannot drive her around in this thing when everyone else is (a) out of their goddamned minds and (b) driving a tank. If I have a collision with any car in Texas, my Civic will crumple like an eggshell, so now I need to participate in the suburban vehicular brinkmanship and obtain a giant fuckoff SUV to protect my child from morons.
Meanwhile, although I have driven Edith by myself before, whenever possible I ask my mother to drive, and I sit in the back with Edith so that I can hold her hand, and stroke her hair, and hold her blanket up when the sun slants in and touches some unprotected part of her skin. I don’t know what I think I can do should we get into an accident, but I guess I have some idea that I’d have time to unbuckle my seat belt and launch my body between the incoming vehicle and her, and I don’t know, absorb the collision Superman-style with my…abs? Look, it’s not necessarily logical, but I can at least deal with the sun part.