20 years ago. apparently the last time gas was 99 cents a gallon in wisconsin was 20 years ago. i don’t remember that in particular; my children were young and things were busy. how strange to now be able to purchase gas for 99 cents a gallon, filling up little-baby-scion for about $10, and not be able to go anywhere.
20 years before 20 years ago i remember gas being 79 cents a gallon or so. on long island, i would go to the citgo station on the corner of larkfield and clay pitts road in my vw bug, filling up for well under $10. they pumped your gas for you back then. i had one of my first credit cards, a citgo card, in those days. on one occasion, a couple days after i got gas, i received a phone call. it was from the guy who had pumped my gas. he had saved my information post-pumping and looked my last name up in the phone book. he called to ask me to go on a date. he was always nice to me every single time i got gas, so i thought it perfectly innocent to accept. i don’t remember where we went, but i do remember thinking that i would absolutely not repeat the date – the somewhat unusual way he got my number (i’m thinking that would be against credit card protection acts these days) was befitting of his um, unusual-ness. “she’s not home,” my mom would tell him time and again when he called. after a plethora of calls over a series of days, i told him i wasn’t interested. i started going to mobil.
citgo, dairy barn, king kullen, genovese drugs, the card store – these were all around the corner, up the hill and turn right. to get there you’d go right by tommy’s house on the hill. and just today i found out that tommy, one of the absolute cutest-boys-in-high-school, has died. a man taken by coronavirus, i read the posts on facebook remembering him. it seems, as we lose track of people in our orbit, that they freeze in time – i never knew tommy as an adult so he remains age 18 in my mind’s eye. we lose track of them and we don’t know their successes or their challenges, things they struggled with or how their lives were shaped as they ‘grew up’. we make assumptions and find out later that their lives were impacted in ways we never could have guessed, in ways we would have never wished for anyone. it saddens me deeply to think of tommy, the cool-boy-in-school, struggling in his life, trying to get a firm hold on steady. the things we don’t know, riding our bikes up that hill just to get a glimpse and maybe wave to him.
20 years go by. and another 20.
and we sit at the pump where it’s 99 cents a gallon. there is a global pandemic. we have a blank triptik. as we drove away from the pump, we looked at each other and pondered without answering, ‘where would we go if we could go?’
but right now, there is no where to go. were i to be on long island, i would go back to my growing-up house and sit on the curb for a bit. then i’d go around the corner and up the hill. and i’d wave as i’d pass tommy’s old house.