A friend of mine was recently in a pretty bad car accident. Actually, pretty bad is an understatement.
The car's current condition is more or less on par with Harvey Weinsteins career.
In a fit of irony, this whole incident has made me miss driving, and got me thinking about the bond we have with our first cars.
Dramatic reconstruction of the accident
My friend (who is totally fine by the way, despite breaking her neck) has had that car for the last six or so years. It was her first car, and the car she had all through her time at university.
I have great memories in that car; from carrying way-too may drunk friends home from festivals to spring-runs, to bailing my dumb-ass out when I ran out of petrol on campus. It's seen some shit.
But nothing compared to mine.
My car has carried me across the country countless times, and is the number one reason I know South Africa so well.
It was my first real taste of freedom; an ability to get away from home whenever I wanted, and the ability to take me and my friends to wherever we needed to be.
It's been push-started, jump started, accidentally started, and everything in between.
It had a Dire-Straights CD stuck in the player for way too long, and it's had many mattresses tied to the roof.
It's carried inebriates, reprobates, strangers, and pretty much every friend I ever made back home.
It survived the Durban floods in 2016, and acted as the crew van for the making of my first long documentary for the weeks after.
It once stood in a ditch in my university for an entire month because it was exam season and I didn't have time to fix it. Pretty sure it became part of the campus tour.
I've fallen in love in it, I've slept in it, and I even once yanked out the back seats and carried them with me across Johannesburg so that i would have a comfortable place to sleep at a New Years Eve party.
I know the seats, I know the worn-down gear-stick, and I know the windows that stop working at the most inconvenient of times.
I've struggled with the concept of home for a long time, and for a person who has moved house every 2 years or so, my car has been a constant. That means a lot.
So much so that I once made a video about it.
Now that I'm across the world, I'm without my car, and it's bumming me out.
I miss the road trips, the pit stops, the lazy afternoons driving up to watch the sunsets in that glorious Renault. The gear-knob is completely worn out from use, the seats are old, and the radio isn't the best anymore, but these are all things I've grown accustomed to. They're familiar, not only to me, but to my friends. One of whom often commented: "Man, this car has seen some shit".
It had, and I was there for all of it.
South Korea has an great public transport system of buses, trains and taxis that can get you anywhere relatively quickly and hassle free. It's a system I've been using for seven months now, but in using it, I've never felt the freedom I did with my car.
If it wasn't being pushed down a muddy hill by hungover friends in overalls, it was being pushed around the parking lot overlooking town by high students because they killed the battery (again).
Home for me isn't really a place.
It's going around Table Mountain on the M3, with friends shouting out the windows and the orange streetlights flashing overhead faster and faster and faster as we speed into night, music blaring.
My father used to have a pink Hyundai.
When I was a kid I often scoffed at it. He even bought a new car and kept the old one sitting next to it in all its' pink glory.
One day, when I not-so-politely asked him why he doesn't just get rid of it, he told me it was more than just a car to him. When things were at the most difficult, throughout everything, his car was a constant, it was the one thing he could depend on.
That really stuck with me; the emotional role that cars play in our lives. I think that's part of the reason i don't like public transport that much. It's better for the planet, and often cheaper, but it's not mine, it's not home.
God help me when I one day have to get rid of my car. I'll ugly cry with the best of them.