Living 3,000 miles away from my childhood home means that I am blissfully unaware of the answer to the question of “whatever happened to fill-in-the-blank”. There’s no obligation to attend reunions or think I might run into an old friend when I’m running out for groceries. I do wonder sometimes about the people I was close to growing up.
Little things hit me sometimes. For instance, an old shell of a 1966 Pontiac GTO got me thinking about my childhood best friend, Paula. When we were thirteen we had a huge crush on an older neighborhood guy named Hughie. He was thin with long, stringy light brown hair. For all we knew, he was probably on drugs. But we didn’t know. We were thirteen, and smitten we were. Hughie was a 1970 hippie and pretty cool in our eyes, not to mention that he drove a ’66 GTO.
Did I say smitten? I think it was more like a total infatuation. Paula and I would play catch in our street near Hughie’s house, practically willing him to come out. In reality, he was nineteen and barely knew we existed. Still, we didn’t realize how silly we must have appeared. We’d wait in the hopes of Hughie firing up that totally cool tan Goat with the black vinyl roof. The motor would roar from the other side of Hughie’s huge corner lot home.
That was our signal. He was going to drive by! And we’d part the ways on that street as if ready for a presedential motorcade to come through. I remember flashing him the peace sign and then dying a thousand deaths when he gave one back.
Curiously enough, Hughie wasn’t my first thought upon seeing the GTO the other day. I love that classic car to this day, and I usually think of the whole scene in its entirity. But this time I wondered about Paula. Does she also think about those days long gone and Hughie when she sees a GTO? I will never know.
I’m not on Facebook, and I don’t long to connect with people from my past. Having put myself out there one or two times and getting rebuffed is enough for me. So for now, I will just have to stick to wondering about the people who were part of that life along with some of the sweet memories.
To this day, when I hear the revving of an engine, I think of the muscle car with the hippie driver. I see two ridiculous girls thinking they were being subtle when instead they were so obvious. And I remember how a crush so strong made my heart flutter and my kneees weaken as I shakily waved peace to the man of my thirteen year old dreams.