Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Rewind: A Look Under the Hood

Mack's parents threw him a surprise party for his seventeenth birthday. I'm not quite sure how I ended up there, as our friendship had only just begun. But nevertheless, there I was, with some other friends from church and a handful of friends from his school. I don't remember many details. I know I met his sister and her family for the first time, but I barely remember that, except for how adorable his little red-headed niece and nephew were. I'm sure there were cake and presents. We probably played some games. But one moment is crystal clear, as if it happened yesterday. A group of us ventured out to the workshop to see the car he was rebuilding with his dad. A 1966 Chevelle that he had bought at the estate sale of a great uncle when he was maybe thirteen. He paid $250 for it, with money he had earned on his paper route. Now, I know nothing about cars. But I'm a history nerd. I love antiques, interesting old finds, and I've always thought vintage cars were very cool. When I exclaimed over his dusty old car, he looked at me with what I can only describe as shock. I listened as he told me with pride how he had acquired it, what he and his dad were doing to it, and all it would be when it was finished. Looking back, I realize that those few minutes provided one of my first glimpses at who Mack is deep inside: a dreamer, a visionary, a do-er, a collector, a tinkerer, a worker, and a sentimentalist. It was a short list, but would only grow from there. In my mind, I quietly doubted that old car would ever be all he said. And right there, I should have learned something else about my Mack. He is stubborn and persistent and doesn't give up when he sets his mind to something, and I shouldn't ever doubt what he says he will accomplish. But it took a few more years for me to learn that particular lesson. He did indeed get that old car running. And he gave me the honor of giving her a name: we called her the She-Devil. Our first dates would be in that car. I could hear her pipes the moment Mack would turn down my street to pick me up, and the way an old car smells as it burns through fuel stays with me. Mack loved that car, but time went by, and growing up had to be done, and the She-Devil was sold to help provide for an ever-growing family. Though she's been gone for years, she holds a special place in both our hearts. Even now, if an old classic rolls by me on the road, and I happen to hear that distinct rumble and catch a whiff of her engine running as she cruises by, my heart skips a beat. For just a moment I'm eighteen again, with the wind in my hair, holding the hand of the boy who would hold my heart for a lifetime.

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