On Saturday, I brought the family home from COVID isolation – two weeks at the shore in a mostly fully-equipped and winterized beach house, but with extra-added fevers, coughing, loneliness, and nights filled with worry – and took the older boy to synagogue hebrew school on Sunday, where the synagogue elders organized a Covid-19 testing facility! I and my son, in the cold wet morning after the drive home, had rapid covid tests completely gratis and tested Negative! Finally. So maybe that’s done.
I used the unfamiliar respite from the fruit of my loins for two precious hours to load the car with farmer’s market perishables, and little did I know I would encounter a Queens ‘Imperishable’ – like Kochab and Mizar for the ancient Egyptians, the automotive touchstone – well, more like a fully-charged capacitor in the picture tube control electronics of an old console Zenith – a green – specifically Light Jade, Ford Reference M5445, Ditzler PPG 2840, DuPont 44107L – 1977 LTD Landau, which I’d encountered exactly three years previously one block away in the dead of New York City winter.
In the fall of 2018, I’d passed the car parked on Queens Boulevard in Forest Hills, and then around Thanksgiving once in motion in the eastbound express lanes, announcing its bellowing V8 presence despite the extremely efficient sound insulation of my own thirty-nine-year newer chariot. And then, one frozen morning, I heard it idling in the eastbound local access carriageway, parked next to the statue of Captain Gerald MacDonald (for whom the park is named).
You could smell the car a regulation short city block away, like a Salish potlatch, a flood basalt under a coal province, like someone idling a ’39 Lincoln Zephyr on Queens Boulevard in the winter of 1983. (I was thinking of myself at the age of seven, as my hebrew school-bound son was at the time) The smell of unburnt hydrocarbons was choking. The driver was a tired doorman, who briefly rolled the window down – it smelled just as bad inside as outside – and told me he had gotten the car in New Rochelle recently, and that he needed to sleep. Well, he’s still driving it.
I could have cut him off. But then there would have been no photographs.
And memories, memories, misty water-colored memories of the way we were.