“The Meter Expires @ 9:07”
In 2007, Steve Thatt purchased a Blue Chevy Malibu sedan for his wife, Cheryl. It was a thoughtful gesture rooted in pragmatism.
By then, Cheryl’s 2001 Ford Focus station wagon had become little more than a microcosm of General Motors itself — started exciting, a lot of problems since. The car’s quick death couldn’t have come at a worse time. Betsy was just starting school and I had tennis practices and a high school social life. Reliable transportation was at a premium that wasn’t being met. Steve wasn’t just buying a new car: he was investing in his daughter and stepson.
The Malibu actually ended up winning the 2008 North American Car of the Year award — and now I’m in it, hitting 85 on the 118 East as I leave Megan’s place in Northridge. Steve has been dead for over two years. I’m 22-years-old and the car belongs to me…
Aging means incrementally learning your own limitations; the only thing I know for sure is how little I used to know, and how dumb the version of myself that’s typing this will sound to the version of me that rereads this ten years from now. My everyday experiences make me who I am by serving as a platform of events for self-examination.
The fabric of my character is being sewn in a fluid and unending manner. I’m only able to remember small parcels of past events; I can never feel the experiences wholly (I’ll never remember my first time, but I’ll never forget the walk down the paseos before it happened. I can’t remember what I was like a year ago, but I remember what Vampire Weekend’s “Modern Vampires of the City” meant then, and how much less it means now).
I’m looking for emotional completion of some kind after a decade of divorce, first love, birth and death. The memories, dates, smells and sounds that I’ve packed into my cheesy metaphorical scrapbook have led me to believe that the key to my search begins with my family.
Of course, my brain is hardly an instrument of objective truth. My convictions fail me more often than not — I realize now how little the distinction of “2008 North American Car of the Year” means when accounting for the state of the American automotive industry in 2007. It’s the equivalent of ABC advertising its new show as the “Hottest New Quirky 7 p.m. Tuesday Sitcom on Basic Cable.”
Right now I believe one of the keys to happiness is, in a lot of ways, simplicity. “Seventh-grade me” may have been unoriginal and generally annoying, but back then all I ever did was hang out with friends and play basketball — and those were the best fucking days of my life. Maybe if I can just make enough money to allow me to do that on the weekends…
Perhaps there is nothing to figure out, and “it” is intangible — the way the past can linger in the [s](#)inus but elude the brain. Maybe truly becoming a man means being at peace with the decisions I’ve made and always working to improve myself? A year from now the path to righteousness might start over.
For now though, I’ll put my quest for fulfillment on the back burner — it’s never ending. And I’ve done a poor job of maintaining correct tense.
I miss my exit on the 134 West as I lose myself in the bridge of “Starman.” The melody is simple yet unmistakable. I arrive in Glendale at 6:50 P.M. — Porto’s closes at seven and dad has already eaten.