Red Barchetta (Silver Camaro)


Fuel pump. 30 minute fix. Had the part for months. …since before Michele went into the Hospital. Took me until yesterday to do something about it. I had been dreading it. Scared about what memories would come rushing back if I got my hands dirty, my brow gritty and pick up that smell of working on a car. …a combination of things that, oddly enough, Michele found to be quite intoxicating.

Other than my family, a few friends and Michele, that car has been in my life longer than any thing I can think of. When I bought it from (the now defunct) Showcase Chevrolet, I made a bee-line for her Mother’s house (T-Tops off, of course) where she was staying for the summer between semesters in college. She jumped in, we went to Subway, bought sandwiches, and ate them right there in my brand new car, T-Tops off, looking at the stars, stealing kisses between bites and holding hands. It felt like a dream.

Since then, we have had SO many amazing memories in that car. Not a bad moment. Never an argument in that car, never a nasty word or a sideways look. Something about being out together in that car meant that we were just us, like we were back in high school, running around in my car listening to music far too loudly and laughing, kissing, and loving each other completely. We were always going someplace FUN in my car.

When she first passed away, I said to my dad, ”I want this gone”, pointing at my car. He nodded, but did nothing. …and now I know why.

I had been dreading so much as touching the car – so many memories, all of which were amazing, not a moment of regret, and I was afraid it would all come rushing, crushing back on top of me. …but then something happened. I made the repair, charged the battery and turned the key. …and she roared to life. The rhythm of the cammed engine thumping the walls of the garage, rump rump rump rump… Memories washed over me, and tears poured down my face – as I smiled the biggest happiest smile I can remember smiling since this whole thing began. …and some of the fog lifted.

I buttoned up the repair, went in and took a quick shower and jumped in my car, backed out of the driveway and sped off. The immediate power of being in that chair, being in control of such an out of control machine, and the screaming music from the speakers (including the song referenced here) made me feel like I was ”home” in a way I haven’t felt since she passed except in the presence of a couple of very close and special friends. I was afraid this car would feel as foreign to me as our home often does. …but it didn’t. Comfortable. Perfect. Went to see Scott and Larry – tinkered around with Scott’s car and then went to dinner. It was a great night.

I’ll never be able to look at that car and not in some way think of Michele – but the memories we made there are so amazing that I just can’t feel bad continuing to enjoy it. …or sharing it with my kids and new friends and new loves.

…probably some people read this and say, ”it’s just a car”. Perhaps that’s true, but my blood, sweat, tears and even a part of my soul is in that car, and it has simply become a part of me and my life, and after last night, I imagine it always will be.

I fire up the willing engine – responding with a roar.

”Red Barchetta”

My uncle has a country place
That no one knows about
He says it used to be a farm
Before the Motor Law
And on Sundays I elude the eyes
And hop the Turbine Freight
To far outside the Wire
Where my white-haired uncle waits

Jump to the ground
As the Turbo slows to cross the borderline
Run like the wind
As excitement shivers up and down my spine
Down in his barn
My uncle preserved for me an old machine
For fifty odd years
To keep it as new has been his dearest dream

I strip away the old debris
That hides a shining car
A brilliant red Barchetta
From a better vanished time
I fire up the willing engine
Responding with a roar
Tires spitting gravel
I commit my weekly crime

In my hair
Shifting and drifting
Mechanical music
Adrenaline surge…

Well-weathered leather
Hot metal and oil
The scented country air
Sunlight on chrome
The blur of the landscape
Every nerve aware

Suddenly ahead of me
Across the mountainside
A gleaming alloy air car
Shoots towards me, two lanes wide
I spin around with shrieking tires
To run the deadly race
Go screaming through the valley
As another joins the chase

Drive like the wind
Straining the limits of machine and man
Laughing out loud with fear and hope
I’ve got a desperate plan
At the one-lane bridge
I leave the giants stranded at the riverside
Race back to the farm
To dream with my uncle at the fireside


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