When most ponder the relationship between concrete and cars, thoughts concerning the smoothness of the road against their new tires, yet-to-be-reached destinations, and dull stretches of driving dance around the mind. However, most never bother to consider the deeper connection – and disconnection – cars and concrete have to one another and society.
Cars and concrete represent similar parts of the modern human experience. Both hold distinct memories of one’s childhood and show the markings of civilization. As children grow into disillusioned adults, they reminisce about the times they played hop-scotch on the edge of the concrete slab used as the playground basketball court. They almost can feel the tearing of their flesh and the tears blurring their vision the first time they fell on the rough, unforgiving material without protection. They recall the first time they stood near a road and amused themselves with the glint of the concrete-asphalt. Concrete holds a collective memory for urbanized population, just as a car does. Just the sight of a car similar to the one someone rode in during their childhood may awaken a memory tucked away under the blankets of time. Simply resting my eyes on a white Eldorado Cadillac whisks me away to a long trip I took with my grandma when I was four to see my older cousin get married. I recall fearing that the dark night engulfing us would reveal some unknown danger and cause harm. I anxiously inquired for the light to be turned on, but my grandmother politely protested that doing so would handicap her driving abilities. With my grandmother, simply seeing a photo of a car from the 1940s arises a story about trips with her family to see her father’s relatives in Americus, Georgia. Without cars or concrete, many segments of modern American life fade into oblivion while carrying memories along with them. Cars and concrete string together the upbringings of the urbanized population and manage with their heartless composition to derive heartfelt memories.
Also, cars and concrete represent the two most immense symbols of modern first-world civilization – metaphorically and literally. Metaphorically, cars represent the danger of short-sighted human innovation. If the creators of the car attempted to test the environmental effects of gasoline fumes, perhaps the world’s pollution would be less concerning. Because of concrete’s reputation of being a quick, moldable building material, concrete represents the desire to create at a break-neck pace with great flexibility- a characterization that resides in most current technology or numerous other innovations. Literally, cars and concrete create a significant portion of today’s landscape. Places with unpaved roads or no cars shock the system of many individuals. Without concrete to pave roads and cars to drive on said roads, the modern landscape transforms into an unsettling vision to most contemporary humans. Likely no country in the world solely consists of unpaved roads and uses horses as transportation. Without concrete or cars immersing themselves in the landscape of a land, the area becomes an oddity removed completely from “ideal” civilization.
However, where concrete and cars radically differentiate is their ability to tell time. Although pavement cracks and lightens with age, concrete always can be repaved, replaced, and restructured. Age can disappear. With a car, no matter how many times it undergoes repainting or refurnishing, the car maintains essentially the same design. Anyone slightly knowledgeable of cars can tell the difference between a 2003 car and one from 1973. Cars and concrete may both hold memories, but unlike concrete, cars preserve that period in the time. Concrete associates with history instead of clearly displaying it. The life-cycle of the material constantly revolves from freshly paved or set to in desperate need of paving or setting. Cars remain frozen in a sector of time, unable to shake the past from its exterior.
Next time one’s eyes wander up the massive concrete building in the heart of a city and past the cars parked in front of the building, remember that cars and concrete mean more than means of transportation or building . With their commonalities and differences, they represent and are a piece of society.