Thursday, May 24, 2012

Hauling off cars and dreams and moments not lived


The cars and the dream head out on the highway.
This yard-clearing project has taken on monumental proportions as some often do.  I can see the escalation from a leaf rake to heavy yellow equipment as not too much of a stretch.  There's been an abandoned '79 Honda Civic in the back woods for the seven years I've been here and I was told it might have been there as long as 10 years before that.  The borough has a deal going where you can get junk cars hauled away for free and one phone call was all it took.

But first it had to be dragged out of the woods.  I bought a heavy tow strap last winter in anticipation of helping someone out of a ditch some time but this was the first time it came unrolled.  The key to the car has been lost, an artifact for some archaeologist to find some day and wonder what it might have unlocked.  That meant the steering wheel was locked and could not turn the car, so the tow had to be pretty much a straight line --  out of the woods.  Good luck with that.  The first pull brought it about 100 feet only to be stopped by a low stump some prior woodcutter had left in the yard.  The stumps around here are going to be another problem but this might have shown the way to a solution to that.

To turn the Civic away from the stump I pulled a trick from my old boating days.  Using the Jeep like a tugboat, I nudged up against the Honda's starboard bow and shoved it sideways, effectively changing the course the car would take.  That done I hooked up the tow again and yanked the car forward; well the Jeep went forward, the Honda was actually being pulled backward.
  
Unfortunately it didn't quite clear the stump and it hung up for a moment until I applied, what?  More power.  The car came free and so did half the stump and we headed down the driveway.  The Jeep passed the huge pile of brush and broken branches I had collected, but the Honda plowed right through and over it.  What once was a high round pile of woody detritus, became a long low one in short order, but the Honda made it to where the junk car truck could grab it.

The Honda was an easy decision.  That Volkswagen on the bed of the truck was a tougher one.  It's not easy to face a disappointing failure.  That Bug was supposed to be my son's first car.  When he was 9 or 10 he decided a Volkswagen Beetle was his favorite car.  At about the same time I came across one a friend was selling for $500 so I bought it with the idea as my son grew we could rebuild it against the day he was old enough to drive legally.  As a parent I also figured it was small enough to make it difficult if not completely prevent any sexual adventures he might want to get into and also it would never go over about 60 mph -- safe everything.

We started by taking the engine and all the upholstery out of it and from catalogs began buying a part a month to rebuild it.  We bought lots of chrome go-fasters, those things that look so cool, but don't add a bit of power to anything.  We eventually got the bottom end of the engine apart and back together with all new vitals, but then life interference and a budding teenager's indifference let the project languish long enough to where the car sat abandoned in the yard for several years.  This week came time to accept the fact it was never going to be finished and to let it go.

For sale cheap.
At this point, I feel fortunate not to have a wife and the added motivation she might try to provide.  You see, that engine, with its go-faster chrome parts is on a stand in the spare bedroom.  I couldn't bear to let that go for junk.  For one thing there's about $2,000 invested in it and for another,  maybe there's another guy out there somewhere building a VW bug with his son who would be willing to pay a little for a rebuilt engine or just for the accumulation of parts to enhance the one he has.  If not I have an interesting piece of ornamental furniture to remind me of a precious time that went unlived.

As the familiar baby blue VW went down the street on that truck a cloud of melancholy came over me.  That Bug had held such promise of hours with my son working on a project, watching him learn, teaching where I could and looking up in the many manuals we bought when I couldn't and I remember the dream I could see at the end of the process when he drove off in the coolest VW Bug ever.  Didn't happen and today the junker hauled it away on the back of a truck taking with it a shattered dream that will live on forever unfulfilled, one of those reminders every parent must carry of a quality time we could have spent with a son or daughter we love, but somehow for whatever reason, we missed.

1 comment:

  1. Oh Hell! Yeah, for much of my son's life and some of my daughter's early years I was in the National Guard and worked at a civilian job that had me working every other weekend.

    Long story short, having to pull soldier duty one weekend a month then juggle the two weekends at my job there were months I had no significant time with them.

    Top it all off if I had Guard duty or had to work at my civilian job some sort of major family related activity was sure to take place at the same time.

    I retired from the Guard in 2005 and found a job where I had my weekends off about the same time. Saw one of my old commanding officers in 2008 and unfortunately he wanted to talk. He assumed in a very irritating manner I must be missing all the "action" and wanted to get back in.

    I told the guy in no uncertain terms I thought he was a moron and hoped he did not get any of the guys serving under him killed in Afghanistan.

    ReplyDelete

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