Let’s go for a ride

For one whole summer, he drove me everywhere. He had a little blue Mazda that he had named the Smurf. We’d pick up friends and drive downtown to get coffee at Louie’s bookstore or to wander around Fell’s Point laughing at the drunk people. Sometimes we’d go have enormous sundaes at the fancy pastry shop, sometimes we just drove to the park and made out on the grass.

For one whole summer, I was important. I was interesting. I was fun. We had our own silly, secret language to prove it. We were “Smurfing it,” and everyone knew it. We communicated in strange, archaic, made-up words and when we talked it felt like we had always known each other. How could four months feel like a lifetime?

For that summer, we were always together but never alone. Our friends were our witnesses, they were our audience, and they created us. Without their eyes on us, we would have been boring, bored. With them, we were everything. We spoke in imaginary words and made out under blankets, and they observed us on the outskirts, soaking up our excess energy.

Without our friends, we took a few trips together. Alone, we researched obscure authors. We fought. We crammed too much into that summer. Alone, we flared and burned out.

Two decades have passed and it dawns on me. Aren’t we all always waiting for someone to pull up in their cool car and roll down the window, point a finger, and grin? “Get in. Let’s have some fun.” And we would. Aren’t we all waiting for someone to notice us, to take an interest, to make us feel special? Don’t we all want to attract an audience? Isn’t that what our lives are all about?

I Don't Like Mondays Blog Hop

An old house

I’ve noticed that sometimes when I live in the same house for awhile, several years at least, I stop seeing it. Not just seeing, but experiencing it.

We live in an old house. It has a pretty front porch, enormous windows, high ceilings, detailed moldings. The house has lived much longer than me. Longer than my parents did, and longer than my grandparents. It has had a life of its own, and that life is evidenced by its creaky floors, its cracks, its dungeonous corners of the basement.

We’ve lived here for a number of years, and at first my eyes were drawn to the arches in the hallway every time I passed through. I was disgusted daily by the musty smell of mothballs in the attic, until finally, we removed them. I’d notice the striking beauty of the sunlight and shadows through the front window in the afternoons, especially in the springtime.

Now, I still love the details of the house, but somehow time has softened them. Living in the house has diminished my experience of it. I can no longer smell the mustiness, I can barely hear the creaks when I run down the stairs.

But when we go away on vacation? Returning refreshed from visions of palm trees and crashing waves, or energized from brisk walks through a busy city, I experience the house anew. As soon as I open the door, I smell the dank, old-house smell. I get excited by the sight of the mantle and fireplace in the dining room. I hear the creaks when I walk across the floor, and they feel both familiar and new to me.