I didn’t get car culture when I was younger. As a teen, I didn’t have a car to drive to and from high school. I didn’t wait for senior year to take my car out to whatever fast food joint for lunch (didn’t sneak out for lunch in junior year either). I wasn’t hoping I could speed without getting caught but eventually getting a ticket anyway. I lived a block away from my high school, so I didn’t drive to go anywhere until I went to college.
But in the pandemic times, I get it (let’s be real: I loved the metro but I missed driving when I lived in São Paulo). The thing that has brought me joy is cruising down the street in my parents’ car, going wherever I can go instead of feeling confined and claustrophobic. It is the best thing in the summer to drive aimlessly: to the park, to a sunflower field, on the highway to stop in front of horses and cow farms. Maybe these are the most Midwest summer things to do, but stopping at Sonic and ordering a deeply dyed strawberry syrup slushie probably takes the cake. I get why my classmates did it. What else is there to do?
But it goes beyond the lack of “lack.” It’s taking pleasure in the manufactured comfort of suburbia, the slowness of Kansas summer. The stillness and renewing clarity of home.