Tuesday, February 22, 2011

American Vintage Cars and a Day Out.

Sunday was a glorious Summer's day, not too hot, but bright and cheerful. The American Car Clubs put on a show of their vehicles on a sporting oval and I paid my seven dollars to have a look. My son was supposed to be coming with me but he wouldn't get out of bed, more fool him.

The cars were spectacular, as only huge classic American cars can be. Everything from Model T's  and Ma &Pa Kettle's old farm truck, through Caddies and Chevrolet (including the stunning Corvette), stretch limos, pick-up trucks and more. I half expected James Dean or Marilyn Monroe to appear at any minute.

There must have been nearly 2000 of them and the gorgeous paintwork, shiny chrome, plush interiors., and space-rocket themed fins and tail-lights were incredible. If big was good, bigger was better. I am not sure how they would handle, though. I cannot see me taking a crisp corner in one of those; definitely cruising cars they are.

It was strange wandering around on my own. I enjoyed the outing but the beauty and light around me was surreal, of some other-world where I briefly wandered for a time. I felt the gossamer touch of a grey curtain of grief, which floated behind me as I walked. I also felt the non-presence of my husband and my thoughts flew to his side in his hospital bed, the days of him walking beside me to explore new things and delight in small discoveries now past.

I struck up conversations with strangers, hungry that I am for friendly light banter and human contact. It was easier than I thought, the hardest part being to judge when to cut it off and move on. Enough time to discuss a couple's vehicle and to share a story of the old one-cylinder car my mother used to drive in Blackall as a young woman, and to read the loss of interest in their eyes before I move on. I did not want to be seen as a slightly nutty and needy old woman, pestering others for human contact as a starving dog hangs around a camp hoping for a scrap of food. 

It struck me that I was practising being single. When I am widow, this will be me. Not for two hours or  day or a couple of weeks while Arthur is in hospital. It will be for the rest of my life.

Because of our difference in ages, I am used to doing things without Arthur, going it alone. For example, he never liked the cinema and mostly I liked to go without others interrupting my experience of the film with idle chatter. In contrast I loved to go with Arthur to live shows. I went to university and all its events without Arthur as that was my world, or outings with girlfriends, or alone. I can eat in a restaurant alone and feel no need of a companion. My traumatic, semi-nomadic early life probably made me some what of a loner, making me feel as though I was apart from others.

Arthur and I shared other things, intense local football (soccer) matches, dining out, taking my children to shows and on outings, staying in the caravan by the sea or going to the beach.

The loss of these shared experiences was hard. We both miss them and memories, while sweet, hurt. I walked around the cars and took pictures, but I did not tell Arthur about it, for fear of making him feel left out and incapable. That is what your life together comes down to, the things you experience, the sharing. I treasure the sharing of this end-time of his life. It is a rare privilege but one bought with emotional pain.

The Piper must be paid.

The outing to see the American cars was a good. At the end I got into my little HR V Honda, did a neat little u-turn past stunning long and wide vehicles and gave thanks that, through their interest and passion, people were adding beauty to the world, to me one of the most worthy pursuits.  

I might talk about it to Arthur after all and show him the pictures on my phone. That way we will still be sharing.

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