It was the perfect final summer Saturday night between high school and college. In a matter of hours our tight knit group of friends would begin packing and making their separate ways toward their new schools and future, but that night it was the furthest thing from our minds.
I was the relative new comer to the group having moved just before starting high school. I met JW on my first day when we were assigned a locker and quickly became friends sharing an appreciation for classic rock and his ’65 Mustang. As the days turned into weeks, his friends became my friends and we all spent the next four years doing what high school kids have always done. Friday night football games, first jobs, dates, break ups, first traffic tickets, dances, spring breaking and of course, cars.
I suppose every generation believes they grew up during the best time to be a teenager, but regardless of the decade ours was pretty special. The great tunes of the late sixties and seventies were still in the rotation on our radios, those cool cars that would become today's classics were available to buy and drive with little effort. Concerts and gasoline were still affordable and the terms social media, cell phones and iPod wouldn’t find their way into our vocabulary for years to come.
Best of all, there was no Facebook, only face time. The kind were people actually got together to talk, laugh and enjoy hanging out. I can’t imagine my youth having been the same without it.
I wouldn’t realize it at the time, but that Saturday night would mark the end of my youth. We had for years, found ourselves gathered on a lone darkened road in what was at the time, considered the outskirts of town. We’d sit on the hoods of our cars listening to music and busting on each other for hours. The girls, always nearby on a patch of grass talking about guys, laughing and mostly mocking our attempts to impress them.
Perhaps it was the finality of our time together that no one wanted to talk about, or the fact that the road where we had gathered so often veiled dark and empty for years, had now begun to creep closer to the end of town with its pending development. Deep down inside though, where we tried not to look, we knew that the world, and all of us with it would soon be changing.
As our night and time together drew to a close, one of us noticed a newly poured concrete curb had been recently added to our road just a few feet away and as luck would have it, we were able to add our initials to the still damp cement to commemorate our time together.
A lasting farewell from all of us.
A few years back I found myself in the same, not so small anymore, town after many years away. And not unlike many things, nothing seemed to be the way I remembered it. Our once vacant road was now part of a subdivision closer to the center of town than the outskirts it was in my youth.
And those initials cast that summer night? Unfortunately , they were long gone, probably smoothed over by a construction worker who didn’t appreciate our soft concrete handy work.
As I walked back toward my rental I noticed something nearby that brought those memories rushing back. I had forgotten that final summer evening together we added one final mark in addition to our initials. That ’65 Mustang may have since galloped off in another direction since then, but it’s hoof print and the memories of all the people and places it brought me were right there, just like an old friend.
Branded in time forever.
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