Thursday, March 20, 2008

First Day of Spring

I have a confession to make. I've never had a thing for cars. I've never cared much about what I drove or what others drove, so long as it got me where I needed to go with minimum muss or fuss. This, despite the fact that I grew up with a father who loved to restore old cars. When I was in high school he had a 46 Ford that he restored, painted cherry red, and drove around town with a huge grin on his face, and I never really understood the feeling he had driving that car, until today.

Today I hopped into a black BMW Z3, dropped the top in under 30 seconds, and drove the Pacific Coast Highway 1 to the Golden Gate Bridge, and then back, to Golden Gate Park. It was glorious. It felt like the first day of Spring. I could feel the heat and light from the sun soaking into me, and I smiled, really smiled, with all of me. For the first time in a long while I felt like I radiated joy. Part of it was the beautiful weather, I know, but part of it was the car. It was a joy to handle such a smooth manual transmission. The engine is so responsive. The suspension is amazing. Cruising the patched, bumpy streets of San Francisco just inches from the asphalt was surprisingly smooth. With the top down, the sun poured down on me, and the wind blew my hair into fly-away ringlets. I eventually put it in a ponytail, but soon took it out. Restraining my hair restrained my joy.

Just as I was passing the Conservatory of Flowers I saw an open spot, so I whipped the car in, raised the top, and in three minutes was paying my $5 to get in. It was worth it. I particularly liked the right wing, where the pools are. There was lots of penjing and orchids, and they misted the room regularly, which gave things a dreamy quality. I got some interesting photos, some of which I'll probably post eventually.

I left the conservatory at 4:30, and when I realized the time, my gut knotted up a little. Getting from Golden Gate Park to I-280 during rush-hour is supposed to be a nightmare. I rushed to the car, put the top down again, and pulled out onto JFK. It was cooler, so I zipped up my black jacket, turned up my hot-pink collar, and switched on the seat-heater. And then I turned on the stereo, and as soon as I did, I relaxed. I could hear the music perfectly, despite the traffic. And I reminded myself that I wasn't in a hurry. I turned onto Fulton with a completely different attitude, and had a great drive, smiling all the way. I was in such a good mood I even stopped at Trader Joe's to get the ingredients for one of MR's favorite meals--croque monsieur.

All in all a great day, for a change.

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