Walnut Room this way

Walnut Room this way

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Symbols, and the meaning we give to them

 Yesterday marked the final road trip for the Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Soft Tail--the second of Randy's Harley's.  Two motorcycles and twice that many years of riding, and he decided he was ready to give it up.  The Fat Boy had 5600 miles on it--all put on going to and from work, and the occasional trips to Memphis for service.

I'll confess that as we headed to Memphis yesterday for what we hoped was its final ride, there were moments when I was afraid that might be more literal than figurative.  I always follow him to Memphis--mainly so we can do errands while we waited on the Harley service, but there was always the back-up plan as well--the what if.  We always took the two-lane side road that ran parallel to 78 so we could avoid the horrendous condition of 78 and the trucks that made it that way.  That part of the road trip was always fine, uneventful.

Leaving Oxford yesterday before 9 a.m., the crowds in town for the Ole Miss-UT (as I always tell my friend who attended the University of Tennessee, UT is Texas; the other one is UTenn) were already swarming.  Before we hit highway 7 to Holly Springs, two vehicles had pulled out directly in front of him, and on the Holly Springs highway, a vehicle went around me and him, with a vehicle approaching in the other lane.  All I could do was slow down and hope the guy had sense enough to pull back over into his own lane and hold the passing.  He did not.  He cut in front of Rand on the motorcycle with only moments to spare before the other vehicle--who also appeared to be more than willing to play chicken and had not slowed down either--whizzed by.  Best not to repeat what I said.
 We arrived at Lexus of Memphis, Randy on the Harley and me in the 2002 Avalanche that was my graduation present after finishing my doctorate in 2001.  We took our first road trip in it to Ruidoso, New Mexico with our friends Jimbo and Bobbie, in November right after I defended dissertation.  That would be the first of many road trips, including in recent years, more than its share of trips back to Texas.

I was pulling a trailer when we moved J back to Texas from Florida, and topped a hill to find a logging truck in my lane headed toward me.  (Yes, in Mississippi.  I don't know what it is about this place, but I have had more close calls here than anywhere in my life, usually due to folks being in the wrong lane driving toward oncoming traffic.)  I credited the stability of the truck--along with my steady hands and quick thinking--as I guided the truck to safety on the shoulder of the road with a trailer fishtailing behind me.

This trust-worthy baby had 157,000 miles on it and still going.  We both felt a certain nostalgia and regretted to part with it.   It was paid for, serviceable, and one never knows when one might need a truck.  It was great for traveling with the dogs.  The unavoidable issue was its age, and concern about being on the highway in a vehicle that might break down, and the gas mileage.  It required $80 to fill the tank, and while for a 4WD truck it wasn't bad mileage, it wasn't good.  Buying the Lexus CT hybrid in spring only fueled (no pun intended) Randy's desire to down-size, gain better gas mileage, and have a road worthy vehicle larger than the CT for those never-ending trips to Texas to see our family.
 He really wanted the Lexus hybrid, but let me just say that in my wildest dreams I cannot begin to think that I would pay $60,000 for a car.  Well, you know, if I was wealthy I might, but I am not so that was never really a consideration.  There really was not a great deal of difference in the highway mileage on the hybrid and the non-hybrid RX.  (More space for humans, more space for luggage, and the ability to drop the back seats and carry at least some small items if not a sheet of plywood and lumber.)  In town, Randy does nothing but the 3 miles to and from work, so even the lower city mileage was not a deal-breaker.  And it was way less money.
I took my parking tag out of the Avalanche for the last time, and Rand unloaded the two bags of concrete mix from the Avalanche to the Lexus.  It was just a truck--a vehicle to get you from point A to point B, but it felt strange leaving it there with an uncertain future.  Our salesman, who sold us the CT and did such an incredible job helping us select the right vehicle this time, said this truck would probably end up being an Hispanic work truck.  I said I hoped it would provide as much service to them as it had to us.

I like to think that it would go to someone who labors with his hands to make a living, and know that workers who worked hard every day would have clean leather seats that were comfortable, and a radio that had played more than its share of Tejano music for this huera, and would hopefully see them through many years of serviceable use as they went to and from a job.  I can imagine them even now, 5 guys heading out in the early morning for the job site, laughing and talking.  Maybe on some mornings, or late in the evening as they head home for sleep before starting it all over again the next morning, they will feel the gentle vibes of all the work for social and economic justice that was done with that truck.  Maybe they will feel the presence of Courtney and Lira as they rode to Abilene from the Dallas airport on their first visit to the US, and Lira marveled at how "truckilicious" the Avalanche was, as she and Court curled into the huge back seat and slept after 2 days of travel from Africa.

So, we traded in the Avalanche and the Harley, which took way longer than we would have thought, and finally headed toward home after 5.  I sent a text with photo to our friend W.  W made many of those road trips with us in the Avalanche, and it seemed only fitting that he share the new ride.

With 100,000 people in town for the game, it was useless to try to take our normal route home.  We live on Taylor Road--the road that runs by the stadium and is a nightmare on non-game days.  We just trucked right on through to Taylor and came home the back way, figuring it would take less time than dealing with traffic, or the potential that the exit ramp for the left turn toward our house was already closed off anyway.  Frankly, when folks start drinking in the tail-gating parties in the Grove at 9 a.m. on game day, I generally like to avoid anything remotely close to campus.  You know that there is a high likelihood of some of those folks being in a vehicle on the same road as you are.

I went outside to feed the cats this morning, and for a moment, startled to see the RX in the drive.  What was not startling is to hear than UT won the game 66-31.

1 comment:

Beth said...

I'm getting ready to trade my beloved '99 Camry so I know what you are saying. It's been through a lot with me and on a lot of good road trips, too. I find myself hoping it will find a good 2nd owner.