One day, as I passed by a concrete plant near the yard I used to work at, I saw this distinctive shape sitting in a field that hadn’t been there last time I’d passed by. I may be terrible with names and faces, but I never forget a car. Still, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There was no way I was seeing a real first gen Barracuda!
I made my way up to main building and asked about the car. A man in his late thirties stepped out of an office and introduced himself as the owner. As it turned out, it had once belonged to his grandfather who had passed away, and the car had once been a project for them. The owner had the Barracuda hauled up from down South, where it now sits in the field to this day.
I had that conversation a year ago.
It breaks my heart to see it still sitting there, moss growing on the side, and suspension slowly rusting into the ground. The man said he wants to find someone to restore it, because he knows he doesn’t have the time. One of the greatest tragedies I know of is the project car that stays in a perpetual state of “I’ll work on it someday…” because the truth is, they almost never are.
The worst thing is, this car can still be saved. It’s in very rough shape, but it deserves a better life than the one it has in my opinion. There again… sentimentality is a double-edged sword.
What one man sees as a piece of art longing to be saved and put back on the road, the owner sees it as the memory of happier times, one that he is loath to get rid of. That’s something I understand. When my father passed away, one of the things I got out of his belongings were a few pairs of work boots. I was eight at the time of his passing, and since then, I had wanted to wear his boots. I had, in more ways than one, a big pair of shoes to fill since it was just Mom and I.
One day (I can’t remember exactly when) I tried on the boots… and they fit! I had been waiting for this day for so long! I wore them to school, happily knocking the steel toes against I could, so proud I was finally grown up enough to fill his shoes. I don’t remember much of that day, except coming home. As I stood there, on the tile entryway to the living room, Mom pointed out that the boots were falling apart. Looking behind me, and out the door, it turns out I left tiny piles of black rubber as I walked up the sidewalk to the front door. Two feelings welled up inside me in that moment. I felt horrible, because I knew I’d never get to wear them again, but happy at the same time because I had the chance to wear them, if just even once.
I can only imagine what the owner of this car feels when he looks outside. Perhaps he doesn’t see the rust, or the moss, or the 273 Commando V8 that may never run again. Maybe to him, it’s just as wonderful as the day his grandfather brought it home in the early 90’s. You see, we aren’t nostalgic for the items we hold on to. It’s not about the boots, or cars, or anything we refuse to get rid of… It’s about the memories surrounding those things. Sometimes… They are all we have left. I don’t have my father’s boots anymore, but I still have his ID card. Although I can’t remember much about the man, when I hold that old, warped, and faded-by-thirteen-plus-years piece of plastic in my hand, I feel my father in my heart.
So, as much as I’d like to see this car up and running again, like I think it deserves… Maybe he’s not ready to see it go. I’ll check by the yard every so often to see it slowly rusting away, and remind myself that we all have our boots, and must walk our path within them.