When a Drive is an Ending

Tonight, as I driving the Taurus home after seeing Emily for the last time this summer, I felt a bit like Jeremy Clarkson when he talks about how it felt driving the Aston Martin Vantage V12. Our Ford Taurus station wagon has been part of my life for most of it. While I do remember when we bought the car and time before then, it quickly became and is the paradigmatic car in my life psyche. I could go on, but its just filler.

What I’m trying to say is that what I was driving was an Ending. When I saw Emily tonight, one of the first things she said to me is that it was the “end of times” – the last time I would see her this summer, or in dialect: the last time we would have “times”. Times are not seconds, they are meaningful events, durations, happenings, dwellings, schisms, spikes, evenings, Hooligan Night, etc…Times are not things that happen in time, time is an abstraction from Times which helps us get a hold on “having times”. Proof: without times, there would be no time. Without humans with respect to which dimensions to extend, it would make no sense to differentiate between extension and duration, or even to talk about “extention” or “duration” at all. Only because times are can there also be something called “time”.

Of course times are not ending, but this is the “end of times”. This is the end of the summer. This is September 1st! This is the end of the 2 month heatwave! Hiking today up Hollyburn? Rain, or at least clouds, humidity, spitting. Few hikers. Tuesday – back to work, back to school.

Driving home tonight I felt that what I was driving was an ending. What is an ending? An “ending” is a time. The end of times is a times! What characteristics does it have? Drawing-to-a-close (meaning) and cessation (death). Heidegger says Man’s death is his only non-relational possibility because he can not pass it onto anyone else. But neither can man pass of an ending such as this – for he would cease to be himself. If man does not end, which in this case means leave home (for the hundredth time), he is not the same man.

Why do I keep talking about driving? The car, the Taurus. The Taurus is where I learned to drive, where I’ve had innumerable fun times, where I became “the guy who drives people”. Not the only car, but the most, the first, the “ultimate place of fun” (-Mike Kushnir), friends of wedding transport (Mathias and Kiersten 2008). Also, the car is in a sense the same as Dave’s Taurus (San Fran, Phoenix), although it is different (not red, cleaner oil).

But I was actually driving, not just nolstagiaizing. Here’s the thing – we’re probably selling the old girl, and this might be the last time I drive her back from White Rock. I have done this innumerable times, and realizing that this might be the last one made me appreciate every particularity of the drive. First, there is the way the car drives. This is not a good drivers car, by any stretch of the imagination, but I am quite adept at driving it. It is not a performance engine, but I quite like the induction roar it makes above 3000 rpm, so I let it rev a few times (after properly warm of course). I also like working the shifter – my body knows how long it takes to shift, how to blip the throttle to make it smooth on the 4-2 shift, even the 2-1 shift which it does on its own somewhere around 35km/h as you decelerate if the car was shifted into 2nd using the “L” position. There is nothing objectively special about any of this, they are merely quirks – but like anyone, quirks are part of my life.

Even though the road is straight, coming north on 184th between 16th and 54th avenue, it falls into distinct sections. There are stop sights at 24th, 32nd (now a light actually), but after that it’s a straight shot to 54th. The fastest part of the drive is usually after the connecting road at 40th to 54th – 14 blocks of unblocked 2 lane country road. Every time I drive it it feels like the Mulsanne straight – even though I rarely exceed 75km/h. The fast section ends when you need to slow for the tracks, how much you have to slow differs year to year. Now the tracks are actually marked “30km/h”, although they have been far worse in the past when no such speed limit was in place.

I’m sure other people have drives like this, drives to work or school, drives to a friends house. It’s not only the number of times you drive a route that makes it meaningful, but what you happen to be thinking about on the drive. As we age, the world fills up with meaning – we see it everywhere, attached to the places where we have times. This is what Heidegger means when he says the world is referential – nothing literally “is” itself, everything is through referring, through pointing out something else. When I drive by the Pink Palace hotel on King George highway, it literally has “existence” for me only insofar as it refers to meaningful times (Junior prom, that day Dave and I tried to rent scooters and get into the hotel pool).

White Rock, as a place of times, has been ending for me for many years. Ever since I went to UBC 7 or so years ago, every summer I came home (every summer so far) has felt nostalgic. But how many times can one feel nostalgic for high school? All my friends have left the Rock (except Emily, who has returned! Although I wish she were returning with me)! At some point, the cat dies, they sell the car, your parents move, whatever material connected you with the past is replaced by something with no references, no indications. This feels like a loss at first, because it is – but a loss is also the invitation to imbue those new materials with their own times. New places, new cars, new pets. Clinging to the old is comforting, is perspective-giving (tradition), but also entrapping (repetition) and stifling (reduction, restriction). New experiences, new direction, new motivation – the future. Finding “yourself”, finding “purpose”, finding “why does no matter how that question is posed it sounds cliche?”. Various answers to “Who are you?”.

An Ending, the end of times, is recognizing your old answers to those questions are no longer sufficient – that truth can no longer be remembered, but only invented.

2 thoughts on “When a Drive is an Ending

  1. I managed to sell the old girl rather than have her scrapped, for the same 300$ the government offered. It sold in a matter of five or ten minutes. Here’s the add I used:

    “1988 Ford Taurus Wagon – daily driver – $300 (Cloverdale)

    This our old family car. It’s never let us down, never abandoned us on a cold night. It’s had a lot of work put into it over the years, and it’s still pretty reliable. My parents have signed it up for the “scrap it” program, and will get 300$ if they take it to the scrapper. But it’s a good old car! It’s worth more than 300$, which is why I’m putting it on sale for that price. In addition to the price, however, you’ll have to get it through aircare because its due (it has always passed in the past, no reason to think it would fail this time). The engine has something like 350,000 kms on it, but it burns hardly any oil – it would probably run for a few more hundred thousand kilometers. Also, it needs an oil change. It’s due – not overdue, but we aren’t going to do it just to send it to the scrappers.

    The car is reasonably economical. I averaged 10L/100km over a summer working around town, but if you aren’t an economical driver like me you’ll likely be closer to 11 or 12L/100km. Since it was made in the era before modern safety crash standards, it weighs only 3400lbs – most modern sedans are over 4000lbs. But it feels heavier than that to drive, its sedate rather than edgy. Not a car for racing or wafting, more rambling. It’s an excellent adventure (burning man?) car. Last summer I drove it to Portland for a wedding and carried 6 people and all their gear there and back again. (The person in the back wasn’t too comfortable). Legally of course – it has two rear facing trunk seats.

    There are bad sides – the rear suspension is pretty worn, and the wheels are out of balance. But its fine as a town car, or you could do the work yourself. This would be a great first car for someone starting out, who doesn’t want to work a massive part time job to pay for their high school wheels. Also, the right front indicator lens is broken, but you can fix that with transparent yellow tape (we did, but it came off this summer – the bulb is fine though).

    And hey – it’s the luxury model, it has all the bells and whistles. Some of them even still work! And the leather interior is pretty nice, although we had to recover the drivers seat chair with fabric when it wore out. It has the digital dash – this is awesome, you can just glance down for a quarter of a second to see what speed you’re going. I don’t know why these didn’t catch on more – they are less aesthetic, but more more functional than traditional dials. And it’s got the good wheels! Definitely the best wheels available on the first generation Taurus. The tires are still in decent shape, but are unevenly worn on the rear due to the suspension being worn. Oh, and we have 4 worn snow tires on separate rims which come with it. And a trailer hitch that fits it, I think we still have, which you can have if you want. I wouldn’t recommend towing a heavy trailer though.

    You should buy this car. It’s good.”

  2. It was sad to say goodbye.

    Also thanks for mentioning my lame return!

    I’ll miss you, my friend. It’s not the real end of times. I doubt it anyways.

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