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rewriting the metaphor

sara.gladwin's picture

Skidding on ice, knowing that every direction ends with a crash

Stuck in a rut, old tire tracks. I’ve been here before, spinning my wheels deeper into mud



My first and only car was a teal oldsmobile 88, passed down to me by my grandfather when he became too old to drive for himself. He showed his affection through fastidious upkeep, vacuuming the carpets each week and washing the windows, so that even after years of use, his car appeared nearly new.

I showed my love differently, though I can see how it could have been interpreted as carelessness; the cigarette burns under the drivers wheel, the trash that collected in the pockets and on the back seats, extra clothing piling up in the trunk. This past winter I even found a frozen cabbage, wrapped in a multitude of plastic bags, kept from rotting by the cold. Passengers were required to sit around my mess.

The outside of the vehicle matched it’s interior, an archive of my mistakes made while driving; scars and dents and the crack in the back bumper from that time I backed up into a boulder.

I conversed with my car frequently, patting the dashboard calmingly, believing I could talk the dying engine into continuing forward. “We’re going to make it,” I would tell the oldsmobile.


The car lasted just long enough to carry me back to Bryn Mawr this semester. Not much sooner after we returned, however, my car died for good.


Skidding; stuck; stalling.


It feels ironic how well the death of my car fits along with these metaphors I’ve been using to describe my semester. When I graduate, the engine in the vehicle I’ve been riding for almost five years now will be dead forever, and I will have to begin looking for a new mode of transportation.


It hits me suddenly that the best mode of transportation might be a new metaphor. I remember my own two feet, and the act of wandering. The words of Thoreau come back to mind:


“…the art of Walking… sauntering... Some would derive the word from sans terre, without land or a home, which, therefore, in the good sense, will mean, having no particular home, but equally at home everywhere. For this is the secret of successful sauntering. He who sits still in a house all the time may be the greatest vagrant of all, but the Saunterer, in the good sense, is no more vagrant than the meandering river, which is all the while sedulously seeking the shortest course to the sea.”



jccohen's picture

It hits me suddenly that the best mode of transportation might be a new metaphor.