Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Wheels and Wonder #atozchallenge


Of what ifs and if onlys...
What you're looking at is, as far as I can tell, a late 60's Dodge Sedan Delivery.  The building behind it is a civil-war era warehouse.  I took this photo in Red Hook Brooklyn before gentrification came in.  You know I like old cars.  I have a list of those I'd like to own or just drive.  This one is on that list.

 I used to go and take pictures wondering if anyone owned it.  There were  no plates on the old Dodge that sat alone for months,  maybe years.  I dreamed of buying (or appropriating) and restoring it.  I didn't even know if I could. 

By that time my father was too sick to help or care.  The cancer that was supposed to be gone had returned and sapped his spirit.   I floated the idea in my mind; if I got this truck home, maybe it would provide him with the spark he needed to fight. This battered old truck began to mean a lot more to me.  I saw it as the possible key to my father's survival.  I knew I was only dreaming but I believe in dreams.  I believe they drive the spirit engine in us that makes us reach when we feel we no longer can.  At that point I was willing to do anything to save my father from what we all knew was coming. 

I planned and plotted.  If she was abandoned then she could be mine.  I'd need help;- a flatbed, a tarp and some unscrupulous friends to load it up and bring it home.  But home had no garage or secret workshop.  There was only the back alley way open and exposed.  My father was too frail and defeated to be out there but it was the only solution I had.

I went there often to commiserate with my dreams or just to sit and think.  We could get her home and tear her down.   Once she was in pieces he'd see he was needed to restore her.  I imagined him thumbing catalogs, getting parts and listening to his crazy ideas about modifications and big monster engines.  I'd sit on the curb thinking so hard that maybe I was really praying.  Praying for time or a cure or just a damned miracle.  We were staring down an end I couldn't fathom.  This man who was the embodiment of life was fading away, resigned to let go.  There were so many things we were supposed to do.  I put every bit of hope into this impossible project.  If I could just pull this old heap out of the ground and get her under his nose that old feeling in him, that need to get his hands on something would kick in and he'd want to live, to stand, to fight.  Just one more time, Captain.  Just this once.

 I called my friends.  I called his friends, all the guys who broke rules and laws doing everything you weren't supposed to do.  The were all in.  They said they'd carry it home piece by piece if they had to just for Tony.  one piece at a time if they had to.  I made more pilgrimages to this old Dodge and promised her a new life, too.  We scouted the area.  It was dead.  It was in a part where there was little activity.  It would be easy at night to swoop in, load her up and take her home but we has to act fast.  We knew this area was slated for the next wave.  The warehouse, which sat idle for years was to become a Fairway.  The areas around it were going to have new restaurants and an Ikea was going in nearby.  Soon this place would be unrecognizable and busy. 

I got everyone ready. I got cousins, friends, truck and some guy named Al who just wanted a piece of the action.  I made one last trip to make sure everything looked good. 

She was gone. 

The old truck that had been home to my hopes and dreams was just simply gone.  Not a bolt or a screw remained.  The wave of gentrification struck and washed everything away. 

The Fairway went in as did the restaurants and galleries and Ikea.  It's a busy buzzing area now.  Shortly thereafter he was gone too.  The Dodge is probably a paperweight in some office now.  Like him, nothing but a memory.  This picture is all I have of that moment, years ago where I was fool enough to think anything could change the outcome, that I cold actually beat the odds. 

There is no lesson here I could see.  I still believe in dreams and hope.  I still believe that the impossible could be probable.  I still believe in magic whether it be in the soul of an old machine or the petal of a flower or the dreams of a desperate son. 

Maybe the lesson then is to never let go of the things inside that drive the spirit to find it's own wings and soar.

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