A place that holds special meaning in the hearts of many, but is often taken for granted intrigued and inspired me to document its importance.
It is a cramped space when full but in the most positive and comfortable way. It is only well lit when the sun is shining. However, at nightfall, the stars have the ability to illuminate this space in an eerie way. It provides firm yet relaxed seating with extraordinary panoramic views.
The interior of this specific place is overwhelmingly gray but filled with clutter and mementos that give it charm. Stickers consume the outer shell of this place, distinctly branding it. Pictures, postcards and memories fill the space. So much junk that it is difficult at times to see the floor, or the seat next to you for that matter. Left over cups, receipts, wrappers and napkins are reminiscent of when we had money to eat out. Clothes scatter the place, papers and magazines and maps and trinkets from where we have travelled. Honestly, there is no predicting what you might discover is not actually lost but hidden in the disaster of this location that many have come to consider their own.
Blue is her name. Hyndai Tucson is her make and model.
This mess of a car has become a meaningful place for a large group of people I know. What intrigued me so much about this space is that it remains constant but its surroundings and inhabitants are always changing. I wanted to explore what that means to us and how it affects the space’s meaning in general.
There is no uniform time spent here. Each and every ride one spends within the confines of Blue is unique and cannot be recreated. The inner and outer appearances are constantly altering due to the amount of use people get out of this car.
Driving to the mountains, airport pick ups, camping, snowboarding, road trips, a quick run to the store, the possibilities are endless but each trip tends to leave Blue with a thick layer of brownish muck on her exterior.
This layer got so thick once, it made the license plate completely illegible and provoked the police to pull her over and ask the driver to get a car wash, followed by a thorough search of the vehicle due to the curious smell it was giving off.
Blue has a distinct odor. Musty, old, dirty–the scent of a long over used strawberry shortcake airfreshner lingers.
The people who frequent Blue are rarely the same and even if they are, the context is always changing and their mindsets are always developing. We have a system where we try to include as many different people on our trips as possible, no matter where we are headed. They are labeled guest stars, in the past these guest stars have included siblings of friends, classmates, acquaintances, past TAs, long lost high school sweethearts, really anyone we choose. They are selected very carefully so that they fit the correct criteria for the trip at hand. If you are lucky maybe one day you will be selected.
What are they doing with their time spent inside this vehicle?
Squeezing in, shuttling from place to place, travelling, relaxing, letting their minds drift, exploring, singing, laughing, learning, talking, dancing, listening, eating, sleeping, living, contemplating, finding meaning, being.
The spirit of this place is a parallel to the purpose of it. As it constantly travels, this car takes us all on journeys to discover something new.
It provides escape to a different and many a time never before seen place, a mode of transport where we get hours to let our minds wander. Discuss ideas in an open forum. Think. Get rowdy. Jam to music. Experience life as it is thrown to us.
Though the driver, or the GPS rather, may know the direction we are headed this places acts as a vessel to unknown and invaluable experience.
After an 8-hour road trip through the endless sea of plains in Kansas sitting next to a pair that I met upon entering the car, I realized Blue holds a special place in my heart. She has provided me with transport on some of my most memorable college adventures.
Whether she is slowly but surely climbing the snowy 10 percent grades of the picturesque Rockies or getting covered in the red dust of Moab’s Canyonlands or protecting me from herds of buffalo roaming through the mind-blowing attractions in Yellowstone park or rolling down the Vegas strip (where she seems to be a bit out of place) she is there for us.
Being stuck in such a small space for such a long time, you have no choice but to bond with your fellow car mates no matter what type of crazy characters they turn out to be.
Blue has the ability to dissolve ones private and public life into one. You open up to strangers in order to feel connected.
The dynamic is always changing because there are always different travelers in the car. This creates conversations that are honest, lengthy, provocative, bizarre and reaching.
Blue provides a chance to create bonds that you would never be able to share with others that didn’t experience a ride with you. Blue constructs new friendships, explores the endless opportunities this country provides us with; it acts as the connector of people near and far.
If you think about it, the opportunity of experience in ones car are vast. The range of feelings and conversations and actions you have in a car are virtually limitless. I chose to explore only one car, so as to better capture the sense of place.
Different cars have different purposes and connotations. To the people that know and love this vehicle, this place, it is one of the most underrated yet loved and meaningful places on earth.
This is not my car; I have no ownership of it, I am just one of its many drivers and passengers. Blue provides transport for an extensive group of people who spread beyond those I consider to be my closest friends. Neighbors, acquaintances, family, and friends all visit this place and though understanding its full importance may take time, they all seem to understand it has some importance to our lives.
We never really talk openly talk about how much we love our cars and what they provide us with but maybe we should start thinking about it. People spend a great deal of time in their cars and rarely accredit this space for the way it affects their lives.
Next time you are in your car, a friends car or a new car think of what about what it feels like to be in there and try to get a sense of what it means to the people that call it their own.
Hayley is studying journalism, politics and international media at the University of Colorado at Boulder. In between juggling school and various jobs, she makes time to snowboard, travel, write and craft. She surrounds herself with people that motivate and embrace her as she strives to make a difference in anyway she can. Follow her on twitter.