Locked In, Locked Out
Originally published in Vending Machine Press
Minnie pushes her shopping cart down the aisles and thinks about getting a car. Not to drive it, for she has nowhere to go, but to sit in it on rainy Sunday afternoons.
Friends have told Minnie about their cars, how their realms of steel improve and augment their lives. They have told her how they sit in their parked cars whenever they feel lost until they find themselves again and emerge with a fresh sense of purpose. A car is a place in which you can stash things and reflect and escape and be alone and what all not, a place you can inhabit as an extension of yourself, where you can light up or drop your shadow, with the wild flow of traffic moving past and your head on the steering wheel or on the passenger’s seat. A car is, to her friends, a place where no one can touch you and the rest of the world ceases to exist.
Locked in, locked out.
Minnie gets it, she thinks, as she lowers two cartons of eggs into her shopping cart. The peace and quiet of being within, the draw of enclosing steel. But what about the breeze on your skin before a rolling sea, the smell of rain in the summer, the taste of a lover’s sweat mixing with the truffled earth on which you lie? What about the clueless ant crawling up your leg or the wet picnic grass tickling your arms? When someone bumps into Minnie in the supermarket, like the distracted father-of-three does now, she may be startled, but she’s often grateful as well. Reveries can get lonely.
At the cash register, Minnie chats with the employees, occasionally brushing their hands when exchanging money or accepting groceries in her bags. Vibrant Swish chard. A thick bar of the darkest chocolate. Afterward, she walks home, whistling.
Does she miss something in life by not owning a car?