Monday, August 30, 2010


As I drew to a complete stop at the top of the hill, I looked across the street and saw Jared sitting on a red milk crate. He was leaning against the brick wall of an old building, wearing a red flannel shirt and a pair of well worn blue jeans. A cigarette hung casually from the left corner of his mouth, and it looked about to fall, but somehow clung to his lip and even bounced a bit as he returned my stare with a smile. He was old; his hair grey, his face marked by crow's feet, and his eyes wise with experience. In his hands he held a sketch pad and pencil. He nodded at me, just as a tear splashed down onto my hand. A rumbling truck wrested me from the moment and I hit the gas, lurching forward. As I drove past, he held my gaze, cigarette still clinging to that smile.

I pulled into the parking lot less than a block away, parked and ran into the bank, spending all of thirty seconds inside to make a deposit. I jumped in my car and was back on the road in a flash, and as I approached the old building the thought occurred to me that I could, or rather that I should, sit down next to him and talk to him.

But he was already gone, leaving me to wonder a bit longer.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Going once, going twice, almost gone!

While I appreciate a nicely restored car just as much as anyone else might, I am not one to spend my idle hours studying them, learning their horsepower, estimating their value, or memorizing the years they were produced and what might make them more collectible than other cars of their day.

Having said that, I do sometimes get caught up in something that I normally wouldn't find fascinating. I recently spent close to ten hours watching a weeklong car auction out of Indianapolis. There were over 1,700 cars to be sold, and the event was televised live in HD. I sat on the couch, usually with food or a laptop at hand (sometimes both), and watched as Corvettes, Mustangs, Chargers, Ramblers, Novas, Camaros, and many more makes and models than I can remember were rolled out for display and bidding.

Having been somewhat of a car junkie during my teenage years, I knew many of the cars that were pushed, pulled, and sometimes, but rarely driven up to the block (low mileage makes a car more collectible). I have always loved Porsches, and a few were sold, but the majority of the cars for sale were American cars, with American muscle under the hood and American memories behind the wheel. It was captivating, all that shiny chrome, bright paint, and pure horsepower on display en mass. I was drawn in and stayed there for days, watching to the end, until the very last car rolled off the red carpet and into a new owner's collection.

That auction set my mind to thinking, or rather many recent events, combined with that auction got me to thinking. There have been hundreds of makes and models of cars that will only ever be seen again in photos, film, or memories. These cars were functional enough in their day, (although that is probably debatable in many cases), but they were never as lovely or desirable as others, and therefore they have been allowed to rust away into memory. A photograph or the mention of them might bring to mind a road trip, a destination, a fight, a particular evening out, a life changing event, or even a specific relationship, but the fact remains that at some point they were no longer functional, practical, or desirable, and became more trouble than they were worth.

Much like those car models that never became collectable, I have over the past several months concluded that some of the relationships that I once thought of as useful, functional, reliable, lovable, and desirable should in fact be discarded and replaced with newer, highly functional, and more dependable models that will hopefully be instrumental in building new memories, new happiness, and in filling new photo albums. It has been and will continue (for a time) to be sad to let go of relationships that are no longer worth the time and effort of maintenance, but in the end the good will out. I have found that some things in life are easier to let go of than we first thought, especially when we have been kidding ourselves for years when it comes to their true value. The key is to know which relationships are worthy of attention, affection, devotion, and efforts towards restoration.

Of course, some people go missing regardless of how much we care, or how much we try, or how much we love. While these people may be the most precious, most lovable, and the most worthy of our attentions, we can not have them back in this life, no matter how hard we wish we could. These impossible situations are the most frustrating, because we will wish away our days, imagining that if we could have them for even but a few moments we would appreciate them for all that we didn't recognize in them before they left us. Living with this regret leaves a hollow space inside of us, one that cannot be filled, no matter the number of things we try to cram into the deep empty within us.

Among the relationships that I have had to let go of is one that has taken a little longer to break off than all the rest. It was a one-sided association with a judgmental, self-righteous, ignorant fool that refused to change, to flex, to question, to learn, or to grow. He was an intolerable tyrant that was quick to anger and slow to forgive. This guy was a real horse's ass, dwelling on the insignificant and carrying around with him the oppressive weight of grudge-filled buckets that dangled from the unwieldy yoke that had been laid across his shoulders at birth. Not someone that anyone with one-third of a heart would want to spend any measure of time with, he sucked the joy out of anything and anyone that dared to cross his path not looking, behaving, or believing as he did or as he thought they should. Farewell I say, to the ignorant dogmatist!

And so I admit to having been a right bastard, and I think that in order to make up for some of it, I'll buy Elizabeth a convertible someday, and we will drive away into the night without a thought to destination.