184,000 Miles

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184,000 miles. This is the number glowing green on the dashboard of my 2008 gold Prius. Although most people might interpret this number as a sign my car has been on the road for far too long, I see it as a badge of honor. Despite the strange noise that accompanies speeds over 30 miles per hour, and the persistent smell of old Thai food, my car is one of the most cherished spaces in my life. It is quite literally a vehicle for discovery, both a means of transportation and a physical space where I have the time to think, debate, and dream.

Well before 184,000 miles, probably closer to 80,000 miles, I was sitting in the passenger seat of the car at 11 years old. With no choice in car entertainment, I was compelled to listen to my father’s hours-long biographies of famed political figures. I would put my scrawny legs up on the dashboard, lay my head back to watch the pink-blue sky filter through the sunroof of our Prius, and listen to the smooth voice of Richard McGonagle narrate the highs and lows of Andrew Jackson’s political career as we rolled through the farms of Central Valley. I did not always understand the specifics, but the biographies continually led to intense discussions about purpose, morality, and determination. At...

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