In 1967 my father drove into our driveway in California with a new car.
It was a yellow Ford Fairlane station wagon with an automatic transmission and a 289 under the hood.
As a seven-year old, of course I didn’t understand anything about any of that description…all I knew was that we had a big new car and it was yellow.
I remember my mother talking about wanting to put vinyl flower stickers all over it (it was 1967).
She never did…and that was a good thing. I guess she was just pondering letting her “inner hippy” out a little.
Sometime, a little while after we’d gotten the car, a political candidate named Savage asked if he could put a bumper sticker announcing his candidacy on the back window. We were at the beach and feeling benevolent…so my Dad agreed that it would be OK…and from then on the Fairlane became known as the “yellow savage”.
It’s funny how tradition gets set in motion by random events.
When I was learning to drive and just starting to get some confidence, we were on our way to downtown Marietta and Dad said, “you’re going to need to stop up here”.
“I know….I see it..” The stop light up ahead was turning yellow….I knew the red was coming. Red means STOP.
My father was a pretty quiet and patient man. He said, again “you’re going to need to stop up here…you see the light?”
“I know…I see…”
All of a sudden, my father found his loud, excited voice…“STOP!!!!!!”
The rest of it was a blur…all adrenaline and hyper awareness as I locked down the brakes and went fish tailing between two rows of stopped cars on either side of me.
A 1967 Fairlane is a pretty big mass of metal. It takes a little while to skid to a stop no matter how hard you mash down on the brake pedal.
When our forward trajectory came to a close, after managing to not hit any of the other cars or skid into the oncoming cross traffic, my father said (amazingly, he was reasonably calm)…“Didn’t you see the light?”
I’d been looking at the light that was one beyond the light…the one that was already red.
“I meant this light” my father said.
In this life, I’m just starting to figure out that …even though people expect you to have plans and ideas about what your future is supposed to hold…if you focus so intently on what is going to happen later, somehow or another you’re going to miss the “now” and really screw yourself up.
One of the most bothersome and obnoxious questions I’ve ever been asked is, “So…what are you going to do with your life?”.
Maaaannn….I hate that question. I wouldn’t want to tell the people asking it any of my grand life scheme…even if I had some interesting and grand scheme to report.
“NUNYA”, I feel like saying….”nunya”.
I don’t know what to say to them.
So…we had this car…a big yellow station wagon that took us to the beach and up the coast and across the country. We drove it in rain and snow and heavy wind and all kinds of weather in a lot of different places around the country. I drove it to first jobs and to get firewood ( a truck works better)….used it for a lot of things that a teenage boy uses a big old car for. We lived with that car for a long time. It had an interesting life a day at a time.
When my father drove it home that first day we owned it, the car didn’t have a lot of miles on it. I don’t think that he had a big itinerary for it for the next 15 or 20 years…we were just going to use and enjoy it everyday.
You have to wonder if the life doesn’t happen around the plan, anyway. We can steer…but we have to remember to pay attention to all the lights going off around us.