Though I can see by the numbers that the years have passed, it just doesn’t feel that way within. Wasn’t it just last month that I was walking to elementary school? I could swear it was last week when I was in college. Then comes the flood of memories, marching through like some bizarre parade. The parade changes and takes different forms which is nice. One wouldn’t want the same damn parade all the time.
Cars dominate the latest parade. I like cars but I’m far from being a gear-head. Math and science weren’t my favorite subjects, even though my tenth grade vocational aptitude test pronounced I should be an engineer. Driving a train maybe, but not building things. I was good at driving and I loved any chance I could get to drive. Although I’ve often felt I’ve missed out on lots of scenery because I’m often the driver, I am not a good passenger thanks to a rather traumatic car accident I was part of in the third grade. I digress. There were few people I felt comfortable riding with and would have ridden through the gates of hell with them.
As a kid, my family had a station wagon. I’m so glad there weren’t mini vans in those days. There was nothing like riding in the station wagon and looking out of the back window. It incited a great deal of waving at other motorists. If we were traveling between Albany and Burlington, then the “way back” of the car became a resting place. It was easy for us kids to crawl over stuff and spread out to snooze. As we grew older boys were often drawn to hooking bumpers after a snowfall. This involved them hunching down and grabbing the back bumper of a car while the car was at an intersection. A great ride would ensue once the car accelerated. Keep in mind the kid was breathing exhaust fumes and could have met a bad end at any moment. But that’s kids for you.
High school involved all sorts of mischief with cars. Since cars were still rear-wheel drive there was a lot of doing doughnuts in empty parking lots or on someone’s lawn, perhaps. Gas was also less than 40 cents a gallon so you could ride around all night for 50 cents. Cars were also ginormous in those days so you could fit at least 6 kids in the average Plymouth Fury.
My first car came to me during college and it was a battered little thing. Thinking of how I drove it hither and yon causes me to shudder now because it was very flimsy and not in the greatest shape. Of course I went through a phase of having a “bad boy” boyfriend. He had the requisite souped-up muscle car and we did achieve some crazy speeds. Stupid. But I lived to tell the tale.
“So I remember when we were driving, driving in your car
Speed so fast, I felt like I was drunk
City lights lay out before us
And your arm felt nice wrapped ’round my shoulder
And I-I, had a feeling that I belonged…” Tracy Chapman
Now that I’m older and more mature (so they say), a car is an end to a means for me. It needs to be dependable and I need to feel safe in it. I’ve had a long-standing series of Subaru vehicles. Every handful of years, a different color of car resides in the garage. It handles well, I can cram stuff in it if need be, and it’s easy on the knees when I get in and out.
This watered-down version of the car parade is missing several entries. Missing are some vehicles that have special meaning for me. But, tonight, I’m not willing to venture down a few of those roads. And there are my idea of dream cars, of which I will attain at least one before I become too decrepit to drive.
I’ve always wanted to involve myself in some sort of mission that involves restoring a car or making furniture from wood or some such thing where I could hang out in an old garage or indoor work space with some other people and do something constructive. Knitting and crocheting seem to pale in comparison. But I do them even though my patience wears thin. Honestly, I’ve also wanted to try my hand at pottery but I remain the kid whose clay art project always blew up in the kiln, so…Sometimes it’s just nice to sit and watch the car parade.