we cleaned the garage this weekend. our garage is old-old-old. it has a little bow in the front and there is a bit of an issue with the walls no longer in alignment with the foundation. the decades-old automatic garage door opener no longer opens it. que sera, sera.
there was the usual assortment of garden tools and clay pots, chairs-in-bags and chairs-without-bags, the wrought iron table and umbrella we hadn’t put out yet, random bags of potting soil, milorganite, sand, a plethora of spiders and their webby homes. there are old doors in the rafters, the tricycle My Girl and My Boy rode, a red wagon, the hammock. there are jacks, a snowblower-that-doesn’t-work-but-we-should-have-repaired, a wheelbarrow that has seen many trips down third avenue. our bikes hang on hooks; we wonder if i will be able to ride this summer – the whole two-broken-wrists-thing has put a damper on things. there is a woodpile rack waiting for us to re-stock, have a few bonfires in the firepit or the chiminea. and there is my old vw bug. smack-dab in the middle of this tiny one-car garage is my well-loved 1971 super beetle.
it was father’s day yesterday when we moved it out of the garage, me behind the wheel, clutch in, gear in neutral, hand ready on the emergency brake as david pushed. it hasn’t been started in years and i could hear my sweet poppo groan with me from another plane of existence as i looked it over. dirty from a few years of garage-sitting, it sure-enough wouldn’t start and i ticked off a list of things that likely now need fixing. these are things i can’t do anything about right now, so i did what i could do something about.
i got a bucket of warm carwash-soapy-water and a good sponge and my dad and i washed our bug together.
i could hear him telling me about when he and my mom picked it up brand-new in germany for their roadtrip around europe, about how it was shipped back home to a port in new york. i reminded him about how he ‘sold’ it to me in the mid-70s and how i drove that little car everywhere – rain, sleet, snow or ice – and it always kept me safe. i reminded him about how my little miniature-collie-mixbreed-dog missi used to ride in the well (i could hear him laughing when i retold how she one day actually pooped in the well.) we talked about its color iterations – it was born baby blue (marina blue, they called it). somewhere along the way we had earl scheib’s paint it navy and later on down the road it was painted white, its current color. i drove it with my best friend sue back and forth to florida, a trip where she learned how to drive a stick shift. it lived in new york and then florida and then wisconsin. it’s been dragged behind tow trucks and up on flatbeds. it bowed out of the drive moving up to wisconsin, so we pulled it behind us with a tow bar. it’s had a couple engine overhauls and lots of tires. i know how to adjust the timing and the carburetor myself. i’ve played countless john denver and loggins and messina cassettes at full volume in this little car. the heat was either stuck on or stuck off. my poppo reminded me that it had 455 air conditioning – four windows open at 55mph. i drove it to get both my degrees in florida. i drove it through a drive-through to get a milkshake the day i went into labor with My Girl. it’s been around the block.
i gently washed the dirt off of my little-white-vw-bug yesterday and realized how time had flown by. i was struck by how – right now- in the middle of a pandemic and unrest – time seems to drag. both are true.
yet i know that one day, as i ponder this time – in all its dragging chaos and emotional upheaval – i will look back and realize time, precious time, was actually flying by.
i sat down on the rusty metal bumper and missed my dad.
“on the road of experience…and trying to find my own way…sometimes i wish that i could fly away. when i think that i’m moving…suddenly things stand still. i’m afraid ’cause i think they always will…” (john denver)