"Do I contradict myself? Very well, I contradict myself. I am vast. I contain multitudes." -Walt Whitman

:malicious user:

Sunday, September 14, 2003

now & then

now

the felon has returned to virginia. much to my surprise, and to his mother's, we enjoyed his visit. he's the poster child for the multiple-personality disorder attendant upon heavy drinking, but since he was sober the entire visit, hr. hyde stayed at bay. his bus was scheduled to leave at 8:50am saturday, so i planned to drop him at the bus stop on my way to see my kids. we arrived at 8:48am, and i parked in front of the charter bus at the curbside. following the felon to the bus, i addressed the bus driver to ensure that a ticket could be purchased on board, and to explain that only the felon was going to virginia beach, not both of us.

whereupon the driver told me his bus was not going to virginia. the greyhound had left a few minutes ago.

a call to greyhound confirmed that the next bus out was leaving in just under 24 hours.

i said a few words that i don't plan to teach my children. then i called greyhound back to find out when the bus was expected to stop in hempstead, the last stop on long island before moving on to nyc and points south. greyhound informed me that the bus left hempstead at 9:25am.

it was now 9:05. i had 20 minutes to drive 20 miles.

i have a 2002 honda accord dx. it looks like, well, like every other car on the road. it accelerates like a cement block moving uphill. 0 to 60 in 40 seconds, with the wind at my back. nevertheless, mere minutes later we were speeding west on the long island expressway. luckily it is after labor day and before thanksgiving, so you can actually go places using LI's network of parkways and expressways.

at 9:24am i pulled in front of the greyhound bus, parked illegally, and saw the felon onto the correct bus. next week i will address the "maint. required" light on the dashboard.

then

almost half a lifetime ago, i had my first car, a tangerine 1976 datsun b210 four speed. i couldn't stop on a dime, but i could do a u-turn on one. i was 18. my brother bill was attending syracuse university, but was interning a summer in ohio. he had failed to move a few boxes of belongings out of his old apartment into his new one across town in syracuse, and asked if i could drive up and move them. no problem. drive 300 miles to someplace i've never been, move your stuff, then drive back. to some people, this might seem to be an irrational request. but to me, it was an excuse to make a road trip. i gathered a change of clothes, my dad's american express card ("for emergency only!"), 60 dollars, my cassettes, and my best friend drew. bill had mailed a very detailed map that clearly showed how to get from our house to his old apartment, and to his new apartment. off we went.

it was a beautiful day, the mountains were majestic, i had my own car, my best friend, and lots of loud music. if you cannot empathize with this scenario, you are truly dead. after chugging up a peak, the highway began a long straight descent into a valley. fourth gear was humming happily, and the speedometer tapped the 70s. the tachometer teased the 4000 rpm mark. yes's live version of starship trooper was rumbling from the speakers. drew and i looked at each other and grinned that stupid grin teenagers get when they have just wordlessly agreed to do something stupid together. he turned the volume to 11. i pushed down on the accelerator.

if you have never heard starship trooper, you are missing half the picture, but you can follow along anyway. it is ten minutes of progressive rock overkill, and ends with an anthemic section that you can equate to, say, carmina burana or ode to joy in it's shear bombastic outpouring. steve howe's guitar slowly gives way to a growing, growling synth progression that eventually explodes into one of rock's best keyboard solos, releasing the tension that's been building for the previous seven and a half minutes.

somewhere in the mountains of upstate new york, the gods smiled upon drew and i. the organ grumbled and rose like a giant awakening; the speedometer passed 90mph, and we flew through the valley's shadow. at the moment wakeman's synthesizers fully exploded from the speakers, the datsun hit 100, and we erupted out into the sun as the highway passed over a gorge. drew and i yelled as loud as we could, and watched the speedometer kiss 110.

i shifted to neutral and let gravity slow the car as we began the next ascent. the cassette ended, and drew and i rode in silence for a while. it was one of those moments that lasts a lifetime. here i am telling you about it, so there's your proof.

the trip, incidentally, would go downhill from there. way downhill. but that's for another post. maybe later today.
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i used to be disgusted. now i try to be amused.
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