23 June, 2009

Rusted Windows and Lost History

I went up to the garage today. I must say, I do not know how hot blue blazes are, but our garage was definitely hotter than them this afternoon. The warm air outside was riding the front edge of a cold front that hadn't made it to my town yet, so in the midst of 112 degree heat indexes I decided to take a small ceramic heater and a cold Pepsi with me to the garage to see what I could do. The heater, by the way, has a cool setting on it, so it wasn't just for heat. Anyway, unlocking and walking into the garage, I was hit with a dense mass of stagnant, humid, hot air. By the time I had walked around the cars and reached the spot where the hard top was perched over a stool and a platform of bricks and wood I was already glistening with sweat.

Our neighbor's niece was out washing her car in the driveway opposite of me, but with a looming storm on the horizon, I wasn't so sure of her timing. Safe and dry inside my humble mechanical abode, I settled down to do some sanding on the plexiglass hard top. Practically done with the 3200 grit, I can now move up to the 4000-some grit tomorrow and hopefully onto the 8000-some grit shortly thereafter. I wasn't thinking about that yet, though. The heat was overbearing even with the little ceramic trying to blow out some cold air. I never did open my Pepsi, either. Nevertheless, in a matter of seconds the cold front blasted through the area. Temperatures dropped by nearly 20 degrees as leaves and branches were being blown off of the trees around our yards. I propped open the side door to the garage (lest it blew itself off its hinges) and then opened a couple of the old windows.

As a little aside here, up until a couple of years ago, those windows hadn't been opened for a couple of decades. I knew they could probably open, but I never tried it. Finally one day I gently pushed, progressively pressing harder and harder until the windows opened. In a probably lame way I felt as though I was giving the garage some of its functionality back, and that made me mildly happy. It felt more like a garage, I thought. My next step (someday) will be to clean all of the windows, grease all of the hinges, and repaint the window frames their original color, just to make the garage look better. That will come right before I start trying to shore up the large wooden door---the heavy one that has been on the front of the garage since it was built by my grandfather, his brother, and my father back when my father was young. That's for another day, though, when a few of these other projects have been finished.

Anywho, rain started to pour down from the sky in sheets, so I figured that before I got blown away I would run back home and dry off. That meant nothing was done on the Maxwell, and relatively little was done to the hard top, but that's okay. If need be, the hard top can be affixed to the Vette, and you can see through it well enough. I'll try to tackle some more of both cars tomorrow---depending on the heat---before the car show in the evening, to which we may take the old Corvette. We'll just have to see. She won't move unless I get that gear out of the transmission that I spoke of in the last post---it wouldn't exactly make people "ooh" and "ahh" at a car grinding and groaning its way into the parking lot...

Later on I headed over to a friend's house to watch last weekend's Formula 1 race. It was the British Grand Prix from the legendary Silverstone racetrack, and I must say that it will be quite sad to see the old circuit leave the calendar next year. That's a whole other post, though, if I want to ramble on about the mistakes the FIA, FOTA, and Formula 1 in general have been making lately. Watching the race, though, the night wasn't about greiving for the RAF airfield or about the potential death of F1 as we know it. Instead it was about leaving all of those things in the dust and doing what those drivers are passionate about doing. It was not about the politics, both empty and loaded threats, or punditry. Instead it was about the spectacle---untarnished, harkening back to its roots, and incredibly adored. Even the BBC couldn't resist throwing in a sad piece at the end about the history F1 is losing by leaving the track, but in all it was a good, fun night.

As I was going to leave, my friend and I started talking about our summers and all that this town means to us. What started as a casual parting conversation turned into an hour and a half discussion about many aspects of our lives, and it made me realize a few things about myself, too. At one point he asked me something like "Do you feel like this town is where you're meant to be?" That's a tough question that I really can't explain. Yes, I feel like this town is where my life is and will be for quite some time, but I don't feel that it's the town itself that makes it this way. While away at college I never felt like I had moved away to go to study. I felt instead like I was away for a few months, getting to go home a few times in the process. For me, what this town means to me is that it's where my family resides. It's where I have great memories and good friends. It's where I can come home, golf at a golf course where people know my name, or go up and work in the garage. It's a place where I can be me, and people will actually know me and like me for it (unlike at college, where I can be me, but none of that other stuff really happens). The town itself, though, is not why I feel like I'm meant to be here, nor do I even see myself being here for the future. I know that it will always be my home, but unfortunately we must face the fact that my town is struggling economically, we aren't alluring to new businesses, there aren't opportunities for our youth to have a solid future here, and our city government has not done an ideal job of getting us out of any of these situations.

Despite all of this, though, when I think of where my soul can be true, it's here. I don't feel like my life is in our state capital even if that's where I go to school. Even though I have a small number of friends at school, I don't feel like that's where my friends truly are located. That last statement has had to be rethought, though, for the first time this summer.

I had known that such a scenario would be a possibility, but I just wasn't ready for the fact that this summer so few friends of mine would be returning to my home town. What's more is that the ones who have rarely ever get in contact with me anymore, which is basically like having them gone anyway. Leaning against our cars this evening, talking to my friend really made me realize how much I miss having my old friends, and having them in the way that they were. I suppose this happens to everyone at one time or another, but it has hurt undescribably much when so many people I have been close to have gone away to university only to change so much that they lose touch or choose not to regain contact with me. And unfortunately that's happened with far too many of my old friends. Phone numbers are practically useless with some anymore because they rarely ever respond to texts or calls. Once usual members of gatherings at my house and at others' houses are conspicuously absent anymore for some unknown reason. Valuable friends who I have never stopped liking rarely ever call to say hello or to make dinner plans.

I should say, though, that not everyone has been like this. For those who are close to me, they know that they are some of the few who actually followed my wish never to lose touch. They still know me for who I am, and they still carry with them the memories that forged our friendship over the years. Pulling things full circle, perhaps they are the sport itself---strong, cohesive and healthy---whereas my old friends are like Silverstone was for us this evening: If it weren't for that track, the sport would not have gotten its start, and it definitely would not have been the same if it did. The track's loss is something that should rightfully be mourned due to its history and influence, but the sport will still live on. A lost piece of history will not throw the future into disrepute, but just as with Silverstone, one should not be so sure that the old circuit will never return to the sport. And I truly do await the day when all of my old friends and I can get together again and have things be as they were. Even if this day never comes, I smile imagining what it will be like with old jokes abounding and familiar laughs spawning a gallery of others. It would be worth it even if, for only one moment, all of the past falling outs and changes in lifestyles slipped out of our memories and settled into an empty abyss. For that one moment we could revel in the spectacle of friendship---untarnished once again, harkening back to its roots, and incredibly adored by all who have returned.

Perhaps that day will come, but even if it does not I know that those friendships---some of whom have all but disappeared, some of whom have relocated for the summer in order to do something they love or are passionate to do---have been invaluable in my life, and I couldn't imagine what I would be without them.

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