I am not a car guy, but this weekend i found myself catching my breath when I was first introduced to Ross’s gold 1967 Camaro in full daylight, its top just finishing its retreat to the back hood. We rode in the Camaro almost exclusively the entire time we were in New Hampshire. My favorite part was the looks… at gas stations and stop lights, wide eyed, covetous, keenly appraising the four of us in the car (five, after we were joined by Martha).
I had never been to New Hampshire before. The names and numbers of the highways that got us there were meaningless to me, made all the more alien by the day-early fireworks that exploded in the night all around us. The state itself was equally as foreign; different slang, different prices, a different way of driving. Vehicles on the Maine beach’s parking lot all open and empty, the Philadelphian in me feeling almost compelled to vandalize them for being so trusting.
It felt more real than Philadelphia, though, as if the commonality of an experience makes it less like reality. Like I was a trendy kid eschewing the new pop album to embrace indy critical darling, only with New Hampshire instead of something off of Barksuk records and irreverent, heathenish, treasonous wit rather than any kind of nationalistic spirit. I still wondering the same wonder: is it good because I like it, or because no one else I know does?
Friday morning I woke up at eight twenty seven, so that by the time I rubbed my eyes, stretched, and walked to the kitchen it was eight thirty. Time for work; not even alien surroundings can convince my brain that it is not time to communicate efficiently at half past eight. Saturday saw me rise at the same time, again unprovoked and exactly.
I resolved that over ninety percent of my liquid intake would be alcohol. I was that guy, the guy from the big city turning a peaceful sub-urban vacation into a bender. I was that guy, drink in hand at all times, but even while i went through the motions i knew that it wasn’t me; it felt exactly the same as playing a snooty New York writer trapped on a Pacific Island for my acting class: i knew the paces to go through, but I never felt connected to the character.
On Sunday morning, hung over and ready to head home at eight thirty on the nose, I finally felt like I understood the both of us; we were using a change in location to attempt to focus our image, but without any normal references to work from we were skewed, suddenly out of control and unlike the selves that we had grown accustomed to.
If New England can at once transform and fascinate me to such a degree, how would I react to Alabama or California, England or Denmark, India or Australia? How frightening to think that all of my weakness and confidence might stem from a place outside instead of a place inside, and that a simple change of scenery could alter or even invert it.
Not the sort of independence I had intending to be commemorating, but fitting nonetheless.