16th and Lovejoy

Take me with you. Take me anywhere away from here. The three of you in your sky blue Volkswagen Beetle, sitting at the light in front of me at Lovejoy and 16th. An original car from the 60s in a city full of scenesters striving for originality. The timing is right and the sun is just starting to set. I don’t have much, but I have a little cash for gas and a keen sense of moment. We could be in Canada by midnight or southern California by morning.

Let’s have an adventure. I’m a wanderer, a traveler, and I’m probably just what you need. You three look like the picture of all American youth. Shaggy hair and oversized glasses, the two boys in the front and the girl in the back. All friends and equals, yet she’s clearly the star of show, the center of attention. Maybe she’s a sister or that ex-girlfriend that was just too cool to completely let go. She’s clearly not with either of you. She’s in love with the world, a hopeless romantic with killer green eyes and a horrible singing voice. No time to be tied down, you’re still finding out just who you are. Let’s take the 5 south to Mexico and just keep going until we reach the tip.

I saw you look at me, mop top in the passenger seat. A quick glance to notice the kid on the street, but not long enough to stare. Your eyes are sad, and I wonder why. It is that green-eyed lover sitting behind you? Not her, but perhaps one just like her, one of your own. I bet she lives 1500 miles away in a place like Philadelphia or Memphis. Your eyes are longing for her. I imagine you two are friends, close as can be from opposite ends of the country. You dream of her and pray she thinks about you in return. You carry a piece of those airport goodbyes around with you instead of her picture in your wallet, and I understand. Call her quick, have her meet us in Austin or New Orleans or Chicago.

What about you, Driver? The oldest, or more likely an only child. Handsome and confident, you’re starting your last year of law school in another month or so. Just a chip off the old block, following your old man into the world of successful businessmen. There’s a very real possibility that I’m your last chance at the youthful freedom you feel slowly slipping away from you. I know this old car used to be your father’s, back before he traded his dreams for a mortgage, his motorcycle for a Volvo with a child seat, your child seat. Envious of the youthful cheer in the backseat and sympathetic to your co-pilot’s longing; you wonder just where it is you fit into the world. I can show you, we don’t have to go far. Let’s drive south on the 101, stop in Monterrey, and Santa Cruz, and Big Sur. We’ll explore where all the old poets used to roam and learn to surf. We’ll find you your own little love in Berkeley or San Francisco; it’s really not that far for her to visit you back at school in Salem.

We’ll drive until we get there, and when we get there, I’ll let you know. We’ll take tons of pictures, and sleep outside, on the beach if possible. The crash of the surf will lull us to sleep after ocean front bonfires with the new friends we will make. We will create stories that you will share for the rest of your lives. Let your eyes shine as you tell them about life and love and adventure. Let them be envious of all you learned that one summer when you just took off for awhile. Picked up that kid at the corner of Lovejoy and 16th and had an adventure in an old sky blue VW Beetle.

When its time to go, you will know it. It will feel right. New memories fresh, but the dull ache of home will slowly pull at you, begging you to return to your lives in Portland. Go ahead, it was worth the trip. I want you to leave me in Baja or Philadelphia or New Orleans. Drop me in Long Beach or Austin, I know people there. You’ll want me to ride back with you, convinced that we had all become new best friends. And I am your friend, but Portland is not my home, and I can’t help but wonder if I’ve already been here too long.

I’m still searching for my place, my love, but thank you, sky blue Beetle, for letting me share in yours.032


3 responses to “16th and Lovejoy

  1. Excellent writing, as always. I still long for the days, before my career, before commitments, before responsibility, when I could just hop in a car with a couple friends and drive. Somewhere, anywhere, just away for a while…

  2. Wow. I do this all the time. Picture the lives and histories of random strangers I see on the street. I wonder what it would be like to have my life collide with theirs in a scenario not completely unlike this. I love your writing, I really do.

  3. Loved this. <-Can't express is better than that.

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