Monday, May 4, 2009

Times, they are a-changin'

The very foundations of the world as I knew it were shaken this Saturday. Not only did I manage to convince my brother, Paul, to leave the house and come spend time with my friends (since there are so few people around our age that aren't drug addicts, drug peddlers, or parents with children, we all need to stick together), Andy had come up from Purdue and he announced that he had a new car.

Andy has always had an older red truck. Without air conditioning (as with most cars purchased by high school/college students) it seemed to run on the hopes and prayers of its passengers, even though it looked a whole lot better than my car ever did.

I remember we met for lunch one day, and he couldn't get it started. I was concerned, certain that poor Andy would be cursed to remain on campus with me throughout the day, missing work and other obligations when he announced that all he needed was a cup of water. We walked back to The Lounge, filled his cup, and walked back.

Shocked, I then watched as he mixed baking soda (which he had on hand) into the water and applied it to the battery, cleaning off corrosion that was the cause of his car issues.

I was impressed, and I told him so. He then proceeded to show me how he could start it by putting a screwdriver on the right part of the frame, as if by magic.

That was pretty darn cool.

As long as I've known him, Andy has had that red truck, with its manual transmission and a ton of tech gadgets wired into the dash board. He has GPS (two different units at the time I was in college), an i-Pod, Sirius radio, and goodness knows what else. Now there is an i-Phone thrown into the mix. Not to mention the laptop...

The tech is just plain impressive.

Still, Andy always had the red truck, which kept him from being so impossibly tech-cool that I would be terrified to talk to him. So I guess that was a good thing.

But now, those days are passed, because Andy has a new car. I don't know what kind it is, really, because I have forgotten in the space of time since I rode in the car, but it was red and plenty shiny, if that counts as a type.

Somehow, the addition of a new car changes Andy in some way, making him less familiar than he once was. He has a Grown Up car.

Now he has an internship in some place doing some thing, all of which Jennifer may not have told me, or else senility has already set in.

I mention that because he won't be around this summer, and I won't have time to get used to the new car. So I took pictures...

And so did Jennifer...

I just have to keep reminding myself that this is the same Andy that Geo cached around Indiana despite the distance, that sat through Shakespeare Under The Stars with me at Ball State because I like Shakespeare. The same Andy that, one Fourth of July, lit a firework without first stabilizing it on some level surface, causing it to, upon ignition, fall upon its side, spinning rapidly and firing balls of explosive fire at Jen's parent's cars, barn, shed, house, and--here's the clincher--a crowd of terrified people (including me, Jen, and Shannon).

I laughed so hard I could not breathe, let alone flee, and Shannon ran to the house (which, I must add, was flammable too) to escape. I just sat on the truck's back hatch thingy and laughed and laughed, until I realized that Andy really felt horrible about the whole ordeal, which was when I tracked him down (inside the house with Shannon) and teased him mercilessly.

This, by the way, was the same man who had been unable to light the bonfire hours before. Explosives? No problem. Campfires? We'll need someone else to intercede.

Then we went back outside and sat on the back hatch thingy some more, while Jen tried to convince Andy to go with her across the cornfield in the dark to the old abandoned house back there, or, failing that, into the barn he had just almost set on fire, all because she wanted to freak him out.

I asked him if he had any pictures of the truck, something I had never thought to do. He said no. And the truck is now at some dealership, gone forever.

It wouldn't be the same if we went down to the dealer in Peru and asked to take pictures. It already has changed hands and it isn't his anymore. It would be like going to England to visit the house my Gran grew up in, seeing the red brick painted over with yellow, the old charm gone away forever. We would be trying to hold on to something that has already gone away, something that was never ours to keep at all.

Because it was never the truck. We won't really miss it. Just like I won't miss my car when it is gone. We'll miss something else, something that doesn't really have a name, that was caught up and around the truck, my car, The Lounge, the Sandwich Cellar, the Truck Stop, and a hundred other places and things.

The way Jen used to hand her old blue and brown purse to Andy as she drove, calling him Purse Boy in front of anyone around.

The way my gran used to take out her half-mug (split down the middle so it was a half-circle) whenever anyone would ask for a half a cup of some drink.

The way Paul used to stretch out on the floor of the living room and play the Sega Genesis, while I pleaded, "When you die, can I play?"

The way Dad used to chase us around the yard, calling us little mice and himself a hawk.

The way a half-dozen of us would pile into two cars and head to the bowling alley, the McDonald's, the Health Cafe, or The Sandwich Cellar, because we could and because we had nowhere else to be.

None of those things will ever happen again. They're over and gone; we can't get them back. And as much as we all miss them, we know that even if we tried, nothing would ever live up to the memory of what those moments and places were to us.

All we can hope to do is look for something different to fill the void all those things leave behind.

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