Not long ago, last winter in fact, I had this quarter-life crisis. To tell you the truth, it was more of an annual crisis that always falls right around the time of my birthday. For my 24th I spent the night on my back in the middle of the living room floor, with a cigarette in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other, lamenting the pointlessness of human existence. I felt I was getting old and the ten year old inside my head, the one that still gives me grief, was berating me for being in that apartment, In that desk job. I was supposed to be Indiana Jones! I was supposed to be traveling the world having adventures and living on the edge! Instead I was a college dropout working a string of dead end middle management positions and wondering where the last decade had gone.
There’s some stuff in between; family, a roommate, a break up, a farm and, eventually, a choice. I could stay the course or I could make a sharp U-turn. Bob Dylan said “when you aint got nothing you aint got nothing to loose” and I found that the freedom that gave me was awesome. I had gone to college when I was seventeen and dropped out a few years later. I couldn’t reconcile my plans with the money I was spending on a gamble that life could be better with the paper. Now I knew what I wanted and I took the next step. I applied to college the day after my 26th birthday, still hung over but feeling optimistic.
What do you know; they let me in! Not just in but on full scholarship, presumably tired of my dragging their society down. It was like I’d jumped the track and ended up on all terrain tires, everything was going great. I got a little apartment 30 minutes from campus. It was cheap and clean and I studied hard enough to get on honor roll. Another band, the Greatful Dead, said “when life looks like easy street there’s danger at your door”. Uncle Jerry was a wise man and it hit within a few weeks. My little red jetta, the love of my last seven years, hit 189,000 miles and all hell broke loose. First the clutch cable snapped, then the ball joint, then the muffler fell off and I had to replace a bearing. The will was there but, at the ripe old age of fifteen, she was shaking herself apart. Then the final straw: The starter coil. It rained and for two days I couldn’t get her to cough. Finally she was towed, diagnosed, bandaged up, and I sat with her wondering what the hell I was going to do. School was too far to bike, there was no bus service, I didn’t know anyone near me… The decision was practically made for me.
Today, Thursday April 7, 2011, in order to avoid missing class, work, and all that comes with it, I moved into my car. She is parked, quite happily in the sun, with a futon mattress in the back. She may run again but not for long so I won’t push her. I have a summer and one more year of college before I can park her for good and move on but, until then, she’s my makeshift camper.
My name is Ash.