A couple of weeks ago I discovered an old cardboard box in my garage that housed several old books I read once upon a time; there were also some I could never find the time nor energy to finish.
“Brave New World” was in there and I re-read that. It’s astounding how 20 years of matured perspective allows you to appreciate a book in a completely unforeseen manner. I saw things in this novel that barely scraped my consciousness when I read it decades ago.
There was a Joyce Carol Oates novel I didn’t have the patience to stick out in the 1990s; I’m reading it now and it’s taking extra energy, but I think I’m capable, today.
Interspersed with all the books I found an old photograph that a car dealership took after I bought my 2003 WRX 13 years ago. It was taken the afternoon I bought the car; I posed with my wife (at the time). I completely forgot about this photograph. I forgot it was even taken! Car dealerships are fond of this gimmick for the sake of posterity. It allows their brand to linger in your psyche long after the memories (and car) have dwindled.
In case anyone doesn’t realize, I almost died in this car. I wrecked it in 2005 while under the influence of lots of booze. I nearly died. This is how my car looked after the accident in which I wrapped it around a tree at the end of a long off-ramp here in East Los Angeles in July of that year.
How could I have ever known, in March of 2003, when this idyllic snapshot was taken, that just a little over 2 years later things would turn out so…harshly.
Admittedly, my extramarital affair had begun by the time this photo with my wife was taken in 2003. I had a girlfriend far away in the off-camera background while I pretended to be a happily married man. It’s the oldest story in the book and the worst excuse. But that’s how it was.
I was on a trajectory, we all are.
I remember driving my new car home that lazy Spring sunny afternoon, enjoying the thrill of shifting through 227 horsepower of inter-cooled turbocharged mayhem. This was early 2003 auto tech. I was thrilled, elated, to have something new, something fresh, something I’d never laid my hands on. Something magical.
Aren’t we all happy to break the chains at one time or another in our life? Yet, despite our delusions, no one ever broke the news to us. The chains are never broken. We are truly, all of us, indebted, deeply and quietly, even invisibly, to some greater malevolent force right up until the day we inhale never again.