Updated: Aug 24, 2021
I always find it interesting how people react when I tell them I've gotten a speeding ticket before.
I mean, I understand - when you hear the name "Emma Ralls" the first thing that pops into your head isn't normally rebellious speed demon. I just always find it entertaining seeing how people respond to hearing that I got one (and still cringe whenever I head the song Sweet but Psycho" by Ava Max).
If you ever saw how my dad drove, now that was fast.
Some of my earliest memories are sitting in the passenger seat of my father's white thunderbird convertible as he drove me to preschool every morning. He'd play a CD he burned with a ton of his favorite songs, that I guarantee you I know every word of by heart still, and he had this small blue toy dinosaur he kept in the passenger side door that I would fidget with. Sometimes he would quiz me on my math tables (which now I laugh about because I am utterly hopeless with anything involving math) or sing along to his songs really loudly or even talk about anything that popped into our heads.
I remember one time, my dad ended up getting pulled over, shockingly not for his speed but because he was driving on a closed road by mistake, on the way to school and got out of his ticket because I was in the car. However, that didn't stop preschool-aged Emma from rushing in and telling her classmates and teachers that "Daddy got arrested on the way to school" (sorry for that one Mom).
Driving now is something that I can't get enough of. Whenever I need to destress I slide behind the wheel of my mini cooper, and blast my creatively titled Spotify playlist (My current favorites being this is me but in music form or funky classical tunes) that I can sing at the top of my lungs and not be judge, and just drive. No destination in mind, just a half-full tank of gas and the freedom to go anywhere. I swear that is how I learned the layout of my college town so quickly, and honestly being able to just drive is one of the most freeing things in the world.
On the nice days, I'll put the top down and enjoy watching the world rush by me, smile blissfully as I feel the wind in my hair, and enjoy the way my car feels like an extension of myself. Something warm and fuzzy just rushes through me as I zoom down the familiar streets of my hometown and allow everything and nothing to matter to me in those instants.
On not-so-nice days (sometimes not even weather dependent) I can drive, and scream, and cry, and just vent to no one but the universe. I found myself doing that a lot my senior year and in the late summer of 2020. Venting, begging, pleading words only the interior of my car would ever know. Sometimes my wishes would be granted. Other times my car became a safety blanket of silence I could cry in while it felt like the world around me was screaming.
I have written poems, practiced speeches, received both good and bad news in my tiny little blue car. Been on long car rides with it packed to the brim (sometimes with people, sometimes with luggage, sometimes with the weight of the knowledge of where I was headed to/leaving from).
I swear my mini Cooper (what I call him varies between boy, coop, and Philip - and my campers this summer have officially dubbed him "Todd" but I don't see that sticking around very long) knows me probably as well as I know myself at this point. Has seen more of me than some of my best friends have.
And one thing I can always cherish about my car is that there will always be a piece of Dad in it with me. The memory of him and my mother gifting it to me on Christmas morning, the rush of excitement as I rushed outside to see it, and the bone-crushing hug he gave me after we both were on the driveway will never fade. Especially when I'm cursing down the tectonic with a smile on my face.
(not fast enough though to get a ticket again mom I promise)