When I was 17 or so, we lived out in the mountains of New Hampshire, and I drove the 30 minutes to school each day in a large brown 1979 Plymouth Gran Fury that was a hand-me-down from my grandmother. It was better than riding the bus, so I was happy, though that thing had waaaay too much engine for my teenaged state of mind. In mid-winter I would normally get up, go out to the car, scrape off just enough ice to have a port-hole to look out from (if that - sometimes I just blased the heater, and let it do the work) and then took off down the back roads, late for school, travelling at easily 90 or 100MPH on roads where farm trucks are considered a fast-moving vehicle.

One day as I was rounding a corner way too fast, I hit some ice and started to lose control of the car. Happily, there were no cars coming the other way and it had recently snowed enough that there huge heaves of snow on either side of the 1.5 lane road. So I careened down this hill bouncing back and forth between the snowbanks like a pinball, for the better part of a mile, completely out of control, before another bend in the road sent me flying off into a snow-covered field like a Northern Dukes of Hazard.

And I was stuck. I struggled out of the car and was trying to figure out how the hell I was going to get it out of there without having to call my dad, etc. When I looked up and saw a farmer who was watching me. He had obviously seen the whole thing, but instead of telling me what a moron I was for driving so fast, he just said (in a classic New England way), "Looks like you're going to need some help... I'll go get the tractor." And sure enough within just a few minutes I was out of there.

I mention this because as it turns out, this event seems to represent a consistent theme of my life. Now as I write this, it's a gorgeous California March morning, the sky is blue, the grass is green, and the chances of me getting stuck in a snow drift on the way to work are really, really low. But the idea of sort of constantly barrelling forward through life in my virtual 79 Plymouth, careening out of control, back and forth between extremes is a pretty apt metaphor, I think.


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