When I 20, my father bought a used car from a guy he worked with whose wife had originally purchased it. It was a 1970 AMC Hornet SST. It was determined that when I graduated from college, this car would be mine. And so it was.
Her name was Persephone. For the first several years we owned her, she would run like a dream until the first cold hints of winter blew in. Then she'd go to hell. Finding her name was the saving grace; a gentle little talk with her, an encouraging word, and she ran like as reliably as my current German-engineered car, but in a time when "running reliably" was not used with any automobile.
Most of the time, then and now, I drive in my cars alone. In Persephone, though, I never alone.
There was a palable spirit that resided in the back seat. A blur in the rear-view mirror that disappeared if I looked in its direction. A feeling of a protective soul watching out for me. A Back-Seat Driver. I could feel it (him? It always felt like a him) sitting just behind my right shoulder. Late at night, stopping at a drive-through for some kind of nosh, I'd always offer my protector of bite. He never took one.
I wondered if was me, comforting myself by creating this feeling of a protective spirit in the car. But why only in the car? If I created this spirit, I'd want it with me any time I was alone and needing protection: walking through a parking garage (still creeps me out); down a dark street; in a distantly located public restroom; along a quiet and deserted hallway.
OK, those places all STILL give me the heebee-jeebees! And I don't sense any ghost-protector.
It was only that car. When she was totalled in an accident and had to be replaced, at first I reveled in the sense of freedom I felt. No more spirit backseat driver looking over my shoulder. I have, however, come to miss that sense of companionship I felt; that never-being-alone-even-when-alone.
Nowadays, I'd welcome back that spirit.
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