They told me that growing up with mental illness can affect how you view the world as an adult; the smallest acts of bravery, of cunning, of strength can leave someone tormented by their own demons a little breathless.
In my opinion, it makes people like me, who struggle to find sleep over the sound of doubt, more able to see small pieces of magic woven into the thread of my life.
Here’s a secret: I firmly believe there is something magical about cars, especially my car. When I saw it, after weeks of back-and-forth with the dealership, I knew something was so strangely me about that car, I needed to drive it. Since leaving the lot with the keys in my hand, I have given my black Nissan Juke the name Regulus Kavinsky. Tomorrow, I go to the DMV to pick up my custom license plates with GRYWRN in Tahoe blue letters.
I have always been weirdly attached to the things that I drive; I have given them all names and cooed to them lovingly from the driver’s seat. My first car, a forest green 2002 Jeep Cherokee was called Bessie. I taped a sheet of paper with rules to the dashboard in order to give passengers ample heads up that I wouldn’t tolerate being treated like a taxi, a trash can, or given any bullshit about my driving.
The last car I drove before Kavinsky was a silver Ford Explorer, nicknamed Smeagol – I always imagined that if that fucking monstrosity could speak, it would be a horrible, wretched noise. I punched the radio hard enough to break my skin and damage the screen.
Kavinsky, on the other hand, is much less aggravating. There is a sensation that I get when I top one-hundred miles per hour in that car, switching between manual and automatic seamlessly. It’s an emptiness in my chest, a void where the sadness and anger usually sit like scavengers waiting for prey. I drove out to a lake last night, a lake filled with ley lines and irate spirits. Kavinsky was immobilized by the thin sand and my sister pushed him out while my feet were introducing the floor to the gas pedal. He is now coated with a layer of pale Nevada dust and my anxiety sits in the passenger seat in place of a shrewd Scorpio woman.
“Your car has tattoos, just like you,” my dad had said when I showed him around. My car is an extension of myself. A heart outside my own body. There is a large green Slytherin vinyl on the back window, surrounded carefully by Latin words, song lyrics, and Ouija planchettes. I have stored maps in the glove box and emergency kits in the trunk because there is always time to seek adventure or to be a menace. My camera, Dick III, anticipates trips to graveyards and tattoos shops from his seat in the back. My fur-child has left herself all over Kavinsky, as well – there are window markings and enough hair to assemble another dog.
Johnny Cash and Imagine Dragons and Kurt Cobain come with me on coffee runs. The scent of autumn and hemp leaves permeate the seats, a residual scent from either my fingertips or my soul. There are books, stacks and stacks of books, and headphones scattered throughout the interior. I sit and whisper away, away, away as I go, with tears streaming down my face and shaking hands on the wheel. The deterioration of my control is a devil on my shoulder, a blessing and a curse. I carry crystals in the doors and tarot cards in my purse. A large white text saying “Go Smudge Yourself” warns other drivers that I carry the power of the dead and the moon under the circles beneath my eyes.
My godmother has the same car and I tell her secrets while we color my hair black to match my wardrobe and Kavinsky’s paint. There is a ballad written about him, dedicated by a tenant above my work who was sworn into my servitude in exchange for leaving an inch long, unseeable scrape on the left-hand side. I was, surprisingly, never mad about that incident – because now I have a friend who writes songs about my car and I am almost always covered in bruises and scrapes; it would make sense that Kavinsky would need some, too.
A car is a second home. A car is just a moving piece of magic.
That’s all there is,
The Book Witch