Drive My Car

Drive My Car ★★★★★

Maybe the story ends there, or maybe it continues.

She rises from the bed, a silhouette painted against the setting sun, fiery bursts of orange emanating from the distant mountains beyond the sleek apartment window. In the soothing evening bliss, struck by potent and intoxicating inspiration, she begins to weave a narrative, the story of a young woman's disconnected relationship and pained yearning. She almost feels invisible, sitting in bemused contemplation in the shadow, the camera instead more focused on inviting the vast landscape beyond, soft bokeh turning city lights into gentle orbs as the vibrant, infinite sky extends behind it all. It's the first time she's told this story, yet it comes with flowing naturalism, a striking familiarity. Her husband, lying next to her, looks up to her with an understanding behind his melancholic eyes, a knowing sense flowing through him that maybe it's not just a simple story.

Maybe there's no such thing as a simple story. Our lives are defined by stories, by the narratives we write, the narratives we study, the narratives we tell ourselves. Formless but foundational, these stories make us who we are, ghostly apparitions that float through the mind to be plucked from at a moment's notice. As synapses fire and thoughts burst forth from our minds, the humming electricity of our existence writes the eloquent lines of our earthly narrative, a story written by a thousand others, ready to become a part of a thousand more. It's a challenging chapter in Yusuke Kafuku's story, languorous and quiet, but his small cherry red Saab keeps him moving. The shining two-door turbo is the binding of his book of life, a cover to contain all his pain, regret, and sorrow.

So he drives, one way or another a persistent way to cope with his emotional desolation and detached grief, the subject of the story staying the same as the context reshapes around it. For Kafuku the subject is Chekov's Uncle Vanya, a story he is deeply submerged within, a narrative he studies ad infinitum, a central piece of who he is. Each day, as his red Saab cruises through the city, along the countryside, or up the snowy mountains, he listens to the play, the dulcet tones of his wife's line readings emanating through the crackling speakers of the aging tape deck. It's routine, indicative of the cyclical existences we find ourselves in as truth strikes us and we're left with a slowly blurring, numbing vision of the world, struggling to reconcile with our realities.

He drives and he listens, a once eager voice conversing with the tape as Vanya slowly fading into a vacant struggle. The play, once important to him because of its overwhelmingly evocative prose, he can no longer bear, the truth it can extract from him too difficult to face. For now, he is complacent with letting himself slowly drown in the effusive weight of it all, but the automobile continues to hum quietly down the highway, ready to write more of his story. Our stories are a part of us, intrinsically and inescapably so, but it is up to us which of those stories define us, and to share with and confide in others allows us to know that our stories need not exist alone in the infinite cosmos.

Sometimes we need someone else to drive our car. Proverbially or perhaps literally, though more often it is the simple act of allowing the stories of others into ourselves, and being open to facing the truth those stories may drag out of us. Pain, guilt, regret, sorrow, it's a part of all of us, and these words and what surrounds them will float through our minds as we float through our existence, but we are capable of moving beyond them, moving forward, towards a hopeful, endless horizon.

And then at last, we shall rest.

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