Mass Air Flow

Sunday Letter | #338

Do you believe in omens? Both of our cars, within the last week, threw up the same constellation of dashboard lights, showing a dirty or faulty mass air flow sensor – a part I had never before heard of or needed to service in all my years of car ownership. On our way to Ann Arbor yesterday, we saw a pillar of black smoke across the freeway, and as we got closer saw its source: a car on the shoulder, flames coming out of its hood. Five hours later, driving home in the opposite direction, we saw second smoke pillar – a second, different, on-fire vehicle.

All four local auto supply stores I tried were out of mass air flow sensor cleaner. I gave in and ordered a can from Amazon, and today, during a break in the rain, sprayed clean the part.

Not a writing metaphor this week, or at least not one I’ve yet deciphered. A few years ago I had a string of flat and leaky tires – bike and car – that seemed like more than coincidence. Was it some set of unprocessed emotions manifesting in the form of deflated rubber? Maybe. Can the phases of my life in Detroit, then and now, be mapped to movements of air? Possibly.

But sometimes the world’s just telling you to be careful. Maybe this is that. Maybe, in the long turn around the pandemic corner, I’m being reminded: stay vigilant. And in turn, I’m reminding you.

This week I’m booking overdue dentist appointments, overdue physicals, and only-slightly overdue doggie vaccine boosters (for Matisse). I found a bike helmet that actually fits my round Asian head (more on this later), and I’m settling in for work on Draft #4. Just regular, steady, careful work.