I have been working late the last few night, as we approach a launch. I drive home in […]

I have been working late the last few night, as we approach a launch. I drive home in our miata. It’s “new to me” and even though I only drive a few miles home, it brings me a great deal of joy.

Part of it is the engine and handling– I enjoy slushing around the speed bumps in the near-empty Yahoo parking lot. I like accelerating in the curve onto the highway. I love to pass. I love when I accelerate, I am pushed back into the bucket seat as if by a gentle invisible hand– it’s like a miniature version of an airplane takeoff.

I enjoy having a decent stereo for the first time in my life. I was blasting French-arab music and suddenly realize both that I was stunningly out of sync with my country (it’s odd I don’t know who coolplay is, I discovered in conversation last night with a product manager) and also that I really love that music’s complexity, which I could never hear before.

But most of all, I love top up/top down. I’ve had the cabriolet for a while, and I don’t really have to sing the praises of top down. Sun on your face, hair tangling, blue emptiness above you– it kinda sells itself. But top up in the miata is a very different experience. The cabriolet has a high roof. Top up is very like having a hard top car, quite comfortable and respectable. The miata has a very low roof, and top up the interior is a cave, especially at night. Driving home last night, I couldn’t understand why I was suffused with a sensation of comfort. I felt warm, protected, taken care off. Then I remembered Bachelard’s Poetics of Space and realized that the interior of the miata was poetically a nest.

Picture a nest with a bunch of baby birds and a mother sitting on them. Being sat upon doesn’t sound nice most of the time, but in the cup of the nest, with warm feathers of a living duvet tucking you in and providing parental “hugs” at the same time– it is a sensation I long for, especially after a brutal day. Better than a martini or a rough workout, to be nestled is what I dream of.

So I climb in the miata, top up, heat kicks on, the dashboard softly glows, the music comforts (news in the morning commute, music at night), the space is just the size of me and I am carried home.

In fact, even top down in the sun it is a nest– the mother bird has flown off and the nest is exposed to the sky, a hand cupping me as the sun falls on my face. I drive to work with the top down and slow traffic is no worry; the sky is nearly cloudless and I’m in no hurry to dive into the stresspot that awaits.

I wondered if having such a car for a commute made sense (though the mileage is fantastic). It seemed to me that it was a weekend car. But I’ve found that it is the salve to the wounds that work’s latest bout of intensity has been giving. I fought with Philippe over it– he leaned toward a practical vehicle. But I fought back– if one drives, which is (in my mind) a bit morally reprehensible (though my back requires it for awhile longer– the bike is still triggering spasms), then one should get pleasure out of the act of driving.

it may not be a VW, but it is still farfenugen.


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  1. 1

    “I was blasting French-arab music ” — can you give any recommendations? I love some of the Arabic pop music I’ve gotten from–rhythm and romance and mystery all wrapped into one.
    Also, I know what you mean about your Miata–I feel the same about my Enfield Bullet( Although I have a five-mile commute, I love riding my Bullet. And when it’s warm (like yesterday–75+), I take the long way home…across the river, down Riverside Drive, through neighborhoods that line the James River, and down roads that twist delightfully.

  2. 2

    my stuff is more french, with arab (and spanish) influences: fabulous troubadours, marsilla sound system and 100% collegues (spelling not guarenteed)

  3. 3

    Ok. I’ve never read something so passionate about driving and someone’s style of music before. I’m convinced…I’m getting a convertible. I’ve been eyeing them for so long now. Now which one should I get? I’m trading in my family car for a fun-cruising car where I’ll be styling down the streets of Menlo Park. I don’t care but I’m going to blare my Sublime and Puccini.

  4. 5

    Ah, I miss my convertables. My solace is a sunroof, which is not quite the same. There is nothing like a convertable and feeling the car nudge you back and left and right. I used to love driving out through the Delta east of Walnut Creek on warm Spring afternoons with nobody else around music blaring clean tunes and the top down. Getting lost was not the object but it truly added to the excuse and joy.

    I have been really digging into some Indian bangra lately with Tablar Beat Science and Midival Puntiz. It gets odd looks listing to such around DC. I don’t understand why people frown at good happy music.

    Thank you so much you have removed my mind from the turmoil around me.

  5. 8

    I bought a Miata nearly 2 years ago and I still love it. Yes, the lack of cargo space can be a problem, being my only car, but I’m single and the joy I get from it makes it worth while.

    For me, the closeness give a feeling of being “One with the machine.” It’s as if you slip on a pair of gloves that follow your every move.

    There is a particular client I visit which takes me on I4 through downtown Orlando. It’s quite a rush, driving 70 MPH with the top down – Close to other traffic, yet open to the sky and city around me.

    Ahh the simple pleasures in life…

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