06 May 2020 The Casualties of Progress
There is a wizened old Lincoln Continental that lives in the lot next door, its front end crushed, torn and consumed by rust and weeds. They have grown up and through, weaving from undercarriage to wheel well to headlamp to sky. The tires are flat and sunken several inches into the earth. It has become part of the landscape, an old friend, a neighbor. It shelters and protects a host of feral cats. It seems a piece out of time.
I love that old beast.
I know that at night, when we are fast asleep, it breathes like Christine – shapeshifting into its former glory, headlights blazing, engine rumbling into loud, noxious, joyful life.
But by day it’s just our old neighbor. And though there are almost a dozen assorted abandoned vehicles in various states of decay – only this one, only this aged old soldier – has become a friend.
They’re taking him away today. I think. Along with the others, clearing the lot. And I don’t know what it will look like tomorrow. I know that I feel grief, and how can that possibly be for a crumbling old junker that wasn’t mine, that I have no connection to other than the fact of his presence.
I thought he’d always be there. And he’s an eyesore, and well past “his time,” and I should be happy.
I think it seemed to me like he had beaten time itself. Like maybe there could be permanence and power, even in a rusting, broken old body. That he could fade in the sun and shoulder the rain and the snow and never be bothered by anyone or anything. That he could stay.
But of course that’s not the way it works. And so in the midst of a global pandemic, I grieve the loss of an ugly, crushed, broken metal junker. A fixture. Unbound by time. Until he wasn’t.