So a few minutes ago I was digging through a bag I uncovered in our garage, when I came upon the above photograph.
The feelings hit me—hard.
This was taken in the summer of 1995, at a side-of-the-road produce stand somewhere in (I’m pretty sure) Florida. The woman with her back to the camera is Heather, my girlfriend at the time (and, to this day, someone I consider a good friend). The man in the white T-shirt is, well, a man in a white T-shirt. Never met him.
The craziest part is the car. It was a cherry red Geo Metro convertible, purchased, oh, a week earlier after my other vehicle died. A total impulse buy, I got the Geo off the lot, used, for—I believe—$3,000. At 6-foot-2, I was way too tall. Even worse, the thing was junk. The body was plastic-like. The back window was all scratched and of little use. Once you hit 50 mph, the auto started to shake. Brrr-brrr-brrr-brrr. A shit car for a shit 23-year old.
So why did I get it? Well … um … this trip to Florida. As dumb as it sounds in hindsight, I was young and itching to impress Heather. We’d planned for months on taking the drive from Tennessee (where I lived) to the Panhandle, and the idea of doing so in a convertible made me feel like The Man. Hell, what you don’t see in the image is (and I’m not making this up) a bunch of young kids coming up to us and saying, “Wow, mister! Neat car!”
If they only knew.
Not sure if I can put this into words the way it sounds in my head, but there’s something about being a guy in his early 20s, money in his pocket, girlfriend by his side, rolling through the warm breeze with the top down on his red convertible. Was I cool? Ha. No. Was the car cool? Also—ha. No.
But I was young and confident and staring at the world before me.
I hope my kids experience those highs, too.