There’s Nothing Wrong with Love


Band: Built to Spill
Album: There’s Nothing Wrong with Love
Best song: “Car” is awesome. “Twin Falls” is great. “Reasons” is really good. “Big Dipper” is amazing.
Worst song: “Israel’s Song” isn’t much.

I’ve talked about this a million times, but a lot of my life has been a mild exercise in getting away from my upbringing. By all accounts, I’m outstandingly lucky to have been raised in the environment in which I was raised (parents that tried very hard, safety, means unknown by 99.9% of the world, etc.). But, of course, a lot of those means are a product of a certain type of America: Suburban, boomer-centric and consumerist.

I am both a product of this — I am wildly self-centered (like boomers are) and I find a fair amount of comfort in consumerism — and someone who is trying to fight against it. In my dreams, I would’ve been raised by NPR-listening English professors, somewhere in Hyde Park or something. Instead, I was raised in the suburbs. We ate a fair amount of white bread and American cheese.

(I’m oversimplifying, of course. I love so many things about my upbringing and the cultural cornucopia that it brought.)

Nevertheless, a giant piece of suburban living is the notion of the car. And, honestly, it’s not just suburban living. American life is largely automobile-based, post-1950. Because I grew up in a community of means — as mentioned, while our family was on the lower end of the New Trier economic scale, we were still very well-off — many friends of mine had cars at 16. Most were used cars, but cars nonetheless.

As such, I got a hand-me-down car when I turned sixteen and later received another hand-me-down car while in college. Three weeks ago today, the transmission on that car pooped out and I am now carless. As soon as I get the paperwork together, I will be donating it to charity.

(This all disregards the fact that I really should be mature and buy my own damned car, but have the maturity level of a child and have gladly accepted the babying that I receive from my parents. I am pathetic.)

I’m lucky in that I live in an area that is supported by a pretty awesome public transit system. My office is on the Metro and I live less than a mile from a Metro station. So, having a car isn’t necessarily needed where I live. I have several friends without cars, which is a complete 180 from my friends in Chicago. Indeed, most of my friends in Chicago and its environs have cars and could not operate without cars. My mom’s first reaction was “What are you going to do on a date?”

I’m not car person, by any rationale, but I’m going to miss that thing. Like anything that’s part of one’s life, the memories are huge with that car. That car drove me to and from college several times. It drove me across the country to Washington to work at my first real job, carting along my girlfriend at the time. It is the car that I brought to Pittsburgh and to the Shenandoah Valley with a different girl. It’s the one I took on multiple dates. It’s the one I took to Baltimore a million times, to St. Louis. Friends have puked out the side of the car. I’ve taken it to a million softball games. It’s the car with my bumper stickers.

Built to Spill’s “Car” is the best song the band ever did (I will tell my BTS story at some point, but this isn’t really the time). The auto in the song is a bit player — just as mine was — in the singer’s life. The song is romantic in a way that recounts wanting to be a part of someone’s life. I can help you, the singer says. You need me, I need you. We can do something together.

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