to the purple van that is going the way of the dinosaurs after living off them,
you cannot read but that is okay because for a while i couldn’t read either and i want you to know how okay i was then. though i didn’t know much and didn’t know how much this ignorance was worth, i had you – leather, steel, new, and royal like the first plum summer sky before it collapses into the pit of night. and while i have grown into you, my behind moulding the back seat with farts and skin and hair and the hesitant unbuckling when i brought a girl and she said, a van, there are few times i have felt as okay as then. even with the girl. the rare times i remember the faint traces of calmness and assuredness since are actually and paradoxically when i am in a good book, fully unaware that i am reading while reading. i want this letter to be like that for you.
i am sure someone would tell me that it is wrong to humanize objects, but those people don’t know how an object like yourself humanized me. you showed me how to feel. you cried often, windshield whippers for tissues. you shivered but moved ever forward, leeching against the snow, sucking us into a storm. you saw us reflected, capturing us in the safety of your view. and you kept me writing, bumpy and burping, words loosening from the tendons of form. there was homework and friends’ birthday letters and rough assignments that lent themselves to the idea that the city was falling apart, or just the driver was.
my father – a history of being forgotten. held you until you joined him. worn, slippery. falling apart into now. as the wheel had to be reinvented, he bought you a sheath. carbon fiber. expensive stuff that was soon discarded for he preferred the feeling of age, the crease, the flakes of you.
i held you occasionally in between then and then, tepid at first, slowly more confident as i roared into laughter. the world was to be mine, and you were my part of the world. by now you were rusted and wheezing after having seen it all: carrying burdens and works, tools and real estate signs, a dog who sometimes peed in you, people who did the same, sadness to events, happiness back, drunkenness, wishes to drink, drinking to wishes, the smell of sun soaked into fake leather, carpet stained with oil from tools and that sadness, sometimes that drink, sometimes when that drink goes bad from sadness. there was gas and goo and windex like this, boys, in circles, not in lines because you create streak marks. groceries, strangers, cement blocks to build a driveway which you sat above when it was finished like a king buoyed but a bit depressed from the weight. a few speeding tickets. an accident when you tried your best to keep us safe from us. and days where you sat like a dog in a sunbeam, moving from spot to spot as the light faded.
now i won’t be able to hold you much longer. you won’t be able to either. your transmission has failed and it is too expensive to fix you and it would only be a temporary fix for something else would go as we did. in a way, i am back to my childhood self first entering you – amazed at all the space, wondering what everything is: how do the seats fold back, how does the engine work, how can we start the car – but i do not know what will go wrong. i cannot read you any longer.
and it is not okay.
i am sorry that it isn’t and at times, wasn’t. you saw firsthand the moments of replacement being a substitute yourself. there was a black nissan before you. you would’ve liked him. i did.
there will be something else after you. my parents tell me it is a fancier car that fits their needs. it is safer. a better model than a ford. will look nicer too.
i am unsure because i am finishing this letter looking at you caught in the snow-dried sky, an uncommonly cold april day, tires a bit deflated like soggy pancakes, headlights needing a wash, doors no longer opening electronically, windows stuck with some mechanical failure, gray licking the bottom of you where balls and cats and hiding places were, and still as purple as i remember it, a testament to the fact that my memory wears as you do, warmed in the fast, cold unknowing of being and the relationships that make us be. without you, i’d be different. i’d be unable to court the impossible, unable to understand that there is always somewhere besides there. i’d have no understanding of the moving picture around, a cartoon of a screen that stays still yet doesn’t. i’d lack musical interest, conversational segues, and realization that silence is what we’re all after when the whole is noise. and i’d not know what it means to love something that cannot love, but still does, for it carried me to all my loves.
this is the end now, and i cannot instruct you on how to go. there is no good manual for it even after humanity has been doing it for as long as we’ve been doing. i think yours in the glove box is pretty fine as any written. i could spend a lifetime reading it, and still not understand it. even in your death, you remind me of how i felt as a beginning, as a child – happy and full and unknown for all there was was the first two.
i thank you for this completeness. merci, gracias, xiexie, and whatever other language you might know. i will play one last cd. have any favourites over the years?