August 5, 2004 10:39 AM

I drove into work this morning in my partner's car.

You know how driving someone else's car can feel so different? Like you have to relearn how to drive.

Yeah, I feel like that driving his Element. As much as it may look similar in size and boxiness and general weirdness to my Scion, it's like driving a bigass truck all of a sudden when you normally drive a dainty little carthing. I'm sure he feels a bit like he's driving a clown car today.

Anyhow. The car swap is something my parents did when I was a teenager. When I was very little, we had no car, then we had one, then mom had a car and dad - and I, a bit - rebuilt that Buick; the two reliable car thing is a late development. They'd swap cars depending on what they were doing that day. They do this even more now - two Fords, one for driving people, one for toting dogs or small trees or whatever.

Americans have this tendency I believe to see the car as an extension of self. To see the car as branded with self. So what does it mean to have interchangeable parts like that? To be Mr. and Ms. Potatohead, I smirk to myself.

I was driving this morning and I started to see this, driving this truckish thing, as a piece of this commitment.

A piece that is less about love than about a sort of social marriage - sharing where there's a need. I thank him for taking my car in to the shop, but not for the use of his. It's just what's needed. And so what's expected.

Someone like my grandmother who isn't exactly told me that, contract or not, we're still married in the eyes of the Lord. I may not believe in that lord or any, but there's a point to that. If marriage is commitment to support a person, to do what's needed; even if marriage is simply love - then there's not much about it that can be held in a contract, is there?

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