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five thousand times his body weight

7 Sep

I drive fast, okay? You should know that I drive fast. I speed. I don’t like waiting, dallying, moseying from one point to another when I could step on the gas just a little harder to make the in-between period shorter. Also, I guess, another reason I speed, the main reason maybe, is you. You think I’m timid, you think I’m slow, you think I’m cautious and quiet and boring. You think I wouldn’t, and I hate that.

Before I had a car, I caught rides to school and back with a guy affectionately nicknamed Iceland (or something like it). I trusted him and his driving and even when it was admittedly questionable, I was never really worried. Iceland had decent taste in road music, was an excellent conversationalist, a supremely talented baker, and generally kind. So on the sunny afternoon he pulled onto my street and said, “I picture you driving a Camry,” it meant so much to me that I forgot all the nice things about Iceland and was thoroughly offended. Okay. I’m sure they’re fine. Camrys are practical, reliable, and unassuming. They’re fine. But they’re not me. Especially when he says it like that. I didn’t respond. When he pulled up in front of my house, I thanked him for the ride, slammed the door, and went to my room to brood.

It started before then. I can’t remember when. But this feeling wasn’t new. In high school, I put great consideration into Becoming Goth. You know—black hair, black fishnet sleeves, blackest black eyeliner. I didn’t, but I thought about it. And I thought I might, because you wouldn’t expect it.

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I didn’t drink when I turned twenty-one, and until a week after my twenty-second birthday, I thought I’d probably not drink for a while more because it was almost expected I would. So when I had my first drink, a shot of Goldschlager on New Year’s Eve, I thought I could spend the rest of the year showing you that I drink now, and I can drink a lot, and I can hold my liquor damn well if I do say so myself*.

It was a normal morning when I hopped in my quick little Juke and cleared my head for a little God time. I asked what I should do today thinking he’d tell me to try not to hate everyone, he knows it’s hard, but try not to be annoyed by everything anyone does today. I would have been okay-ish with that. I would have slapped on a bitch-face and hoped not to be bothered. But that’s not what he said. More clear than anything I can remember him saying to me recently, I heard: “For starters, don’t speed.”

But I drive fast. I zip around bends and race down the H3 and when I think about dying I only ever imagine my body mangled in the wreckage of a car on the side of the highway. I speed. I wondered what it mattered, anyway, if I drove forty when the sign said twenty-five or eighty-five when it said sixty. But it was less about speed than it was about the way I felt when I’d prove I was braver, stronger, smarter, or faster than someone thought. It was about pride, and I needed a reduction. For about a month now, I’ve been following the speed limit, and it really sucks. When someone comes from behind and zooms past me, I can feel my body flush and tense the way it used to when I’d use my pride to fuel my car ahead of theirs again. I feel slow, annoying, and like the kind of person people see on the road and assume is boring, afraid, and lesser. I try to remember that the people who matter know I’m not, and if there is something to learn in humility, Jesus knows what’s up. I’m no one, really. Even without a loud voice, a high tolerance for alcohol, or speed, I’ve been given so much. I’ll probably never drive a Camry, but maybe one day I’ll care less if you think I should.

*This has since passed. I proved myself one night after nine shots of tequila and a night I don’t remember on the floor under the table where I like to think people were thoroughly impressed.

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One Response to “five thousand times his body weight”

  1. maevakap September 7, 2014 at 10:12 am #

    That was beautiful

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