“If I could go back I would…” Who hasn’t thought that a time or two?
“I can remember when…” Yeah, guilty of that one also.
Unfortunately we haven’t perfected time travel just yet, but that doesn’t stop us from being able to actually go back. Over the years there’s been a stable full of daily transportation and others some may call “performance” vehicles on standby. They get you from place to place in a vanilla sort of way with an occasional hint of wild cherry thrown in for variety. But in the back of the garage, off to itself sits another class of vehicle. The keeper.
The very thought of a perfectly good automobile sitting idly by seems to some folks, foolish. Throw in the fact that the car is one of the most sought after original classic muscle cars, and you’ll hear the word sacrilege more often. It seems not using a car as it was intended garners little more than a shrug if we are talking about a brand X econobox, but let one set of prying eyes see “what’s under the cover” and the conversation begins.
“That car was meant to be driven! If I had that car I’d drive the wheels off of it!” I’ve heard them all and frankly, I don’t care. The classic car market doesn’t give a damn about my half decade of memories with the car. “There’s no value” in that I was once told. That’s where you’ve got it all wrong.
Each day I walk past the car, I live life with it all over again. I still get to feel the cold steel of the same skinny door handle as my thumb pushes inward as the door pops open to greet you. The smell of original vinyl and 50+ year old loop carpet welcome me. A reel wood shift ball with pattern worn from use cradles my right hand while I pull the driver’s door closed with a truly solid sound, completely foreign today, behind me. Nothing about this time machine screams modern. Yet the others seem envious.
Pumping the gas pedal sends wafts of octane laden fumes into the cockpit like an aphrodisiac as the building clatter of a solid lifter engine blends harmoniously with the low guttural growl as the dual exhaust monster awakens. Many of today’s drivers scoff at the sight of this gas swilling, unapologetic dinosaur of another time, choosing instead to measure my carbon footprint from behind their disposable cups of overpriced coffee with a double shot of irony.
I mash the go pedal sweeping away their discontent.
At some point in our lives we realize that while we are not old, we are no longer young. That days and weeks do eventually become years and those endless summers do one day in fact, end. Fortunately for us we were lucky enough to live in a time where pictures could be held, not just sent. A time of meeting friends, not friending people, and working delivering newspapers, cutting grass or flipping burgers was viewed as an opportunity and not a job looked down upon.
Coming of age was a driver’s license, not a cell phone. The open road, not the internet, and the cars that transported us there. Much like, actually exactly like the keeper that still occupies a coveted spot in my garage over a half a century later.
“If I could go back”…yeah, I hear it all the time and honestly I wouldn’t change a thing. Mostly because thankfully, I still can.
Copyright 2020 JP Emerson