In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Symbol.”
“Symbolism is uniquely human. We use symbols to represent intangible things like our beliefs and emotions, and to convert the abstract into something understandable. We may also use symbols to simplify and convey information. Photography is often the same; an image illustrates a single moment in time, or captures an object in perpetuity. Much like symbols, photographs, too, may conjure vivid memories and mean a wide range of things to different people.”
My love of driving stems deep and grants me a sense of freedom that I’m unable to articulate with true accuracy into words, but it is exactly that – Freedom. So my symbol this week is my Car and it represents Freedom for me in every sense of the word … freedom of the open road, freedom of emptying my mind, the essence of independence.
“Never underestimate the healing power of driving with the window down, the fresh air flowing through the car and the music playing loud”
There is a deep sense of peace, excitement and exuberance that emanates from my very soul when I’m able to pack a bag, my camera, jump in the car and hit the road. The rest of the world fades away into the deep recesses of my mind. Many might not grasp the true sense of the mental, physical and emotional freedom this kind of act elicits, but those who have a love of driving, be it a car or a bike, might have some inkling of what I mean.
As a child I grew up with my dad in some of the rougher parts of Johannesburg. I guess I wasn’t your average ‘girlie’ girl and loved every minute of this enriched life I was exposed to. As a result, I came to love all things that your typical boy did. I was a hands-on kinda girl; fixing things, tinkering with things, breakings things. I was curious and paid attention. This was the bond my dad and I shared. He never tried to shield me from getting my hands dirty or the possibility of injury. All part of life, invaluable and unforgettable.
I was a child born in the 70’s and as such we ran wild. Never wore protective gear whilst riding our bikes, sliding down hills on a rather disastrous makeshift sleigh, we played ball in the street way past dusk, we scraped our knees and elbows, got covered in dirt and grime and felt obliged to partake in the odd playground or street fight.
As a teenager, I moved to a different town and lived with my mom, a total contrast to life with my dad. My mom taught me a different, more refined set of skills for which I am forever grateful for, but that tomboy I grew up to be was and always be ingrained deep within me.
In high school I posed the question to my mom: “now that I’m of age, do you think I could have a bike, like all my friends. This way I could drive myself to school and to hockey and you wouldn’t have to drive me back and forth all the time.” It goes without saying the very thought horrified her and as predicted, point blank refused. Never would she ever entertain the thought of exposing me to such a dangerous machine. Mmmmm living in South Africa, there are far worse things to die of or be injured from, but pointing out this fact wasn’t going to aid my cause. And so after weeks of tirelessly begging and stating my case, I eventually accepted defeat but not without some serious sulking followed by making a point of ‘I’m in the hate my parents phase’ because they just don’t understand what it’s like to me a girl my age.
Oh parents … we love them and hate them at the same time, especially when you’re hell bent on defying them. But they mean well and at the best of times are absolutely right, a fact we only ever truly realize later in life when we too become adults ourselves.
Nonetheless nothing could keep my upbringing at bay and so as is synonymous of a typical teenager, we rebel when our parents say No to something we are passionate about. I rebelled in secret of course, mostly, and so indulged myself and my time with dirt bikes with my high school friends. Any opportunity I got we’d hit the bike tracks. This lasted throughout my high school years. And thankfully turned out to be my sanity check through a long and tumultuous childhood. That and field hockey. My saving grace.
A bike I was not allowed to have due to the potential dangerous nature of one such beautiful machine, but ironically enough I was allowed to start driving the car many years well before the legal driving age. Did I argue? Hell no. I’m guessing it was the constant need to be driven here and there that proved too much. I led a busy life as a teenager and so in the end I was given the car to get myself to and from A to B. This lasted for several years and was bliss. I cannot express clearly how much I loved driving. The fact that I started driving long before I got my license was the absolute icing on the cake. I saw no reason to wish to speedily procure such a document, after all, in my eyes nothing would change. I was still continue getting myself from A to B and C and D. But I gather after one too many fines of being caught without a license was the last straw and I was forced to become legal.
Which again was a blessing in disguise. By this time I was long finished with school and into the next wild phase of my life. Uni days. Oh the stories…
In between studying, every other weekend I would hit the road and drive down to my favourite ‘weekend getaway’. In South Africa what is known as our South Coast. A hot humid jewel in the Province/State of Kwazulu-Natal to a town called Uvongo. Approximately 580km’s from home. A 5.5 hour drive for me was a delightful ‘walk in the park’. A pleasure ride and one I’d do at the drop of a hat. Often. This was my home away from home. My haven. My happy place. I recall standing on the lawn often, leaning over the fence overlooking the lagoon to my left and the ocean to my right with a sheer drop of a cliff in front of me. Yes, my happy place.
And today nothing much has changed. I still hit the road when the urge arises and don’t blink an eyelid at a long road trip. Sometimes I prefer these on my own, other times with friends for company. My preferential driving time has got to be night. When the world is quiet and it’s just me.
Over my 15 years in Australia, I’ve driven thousands of km’s up and down the coast of NSW and Victoria. Day trips, weekend trips, long vacations with push bike en tow, camping. Some of these with my ex husband, some with friends and most on my own. And it’s my car, my symbol that affords me this pleasure in life.