en-route

At The Speed Of Your Last Good Summer

When you are travelling through the town of your friend, by train or bus, you should always let them know. You will be without control of your vehicle’s schedule, hours and days in a row that will require you to surrender your independence, hurry your bowels, eat food from noisy bags. You feel insane. Maybe you’re alone on your trip or maybe you’re with someone that makes you feel alone, I don’t know. It doesn’t matter how many conversations you have with strangers about what it’s like to grow up in chicagobostonwitchitahouston, you are always unsatisfied. Now, you remember every five minutes that you will soon be passing through the town of your friend.

With appropriate warning and coordination of cell phones, or perhaps a series of exquisitely timed letters, your friend can then stand on highway overpass or train platform and throw you a thumbs up as you blow through their town. Better, they can recruit several strangers to stand beside them and each wave to you in different, funny ways, like that wave that beauty queens do plus some others that are different than that. Best, they can hold up a hastily made cardboard sign that says “YOU’RE RIGHT, THE MAN IN SEAT 12A DOES LOOK A LOT LIKE HUGGY BEAR.” They will laugh, you will laugh, the man in Seat 12A will shuffle his papers uncomfortably. Now, enjoy more fatty bagged snacks.

These little things are important, these little things are the tactile pop and hiss of the electronic age, where you rely so heavily on digital voices, keystroked affection and those goddamn emoticons that make me feel like a slow kind of monkey. Internet dating: no one looks like their pictures and there’s no accounting for personal odor in answers to questions like “What kind of music puts you in the MOOD?” Ebay: What makes a man in Topeka think it’s ok to pack an antique blender in an oversized box by surrounding it with two neatly folded newspapers and a dirty t-shirt? Online banking: I want my goddamn gratis watermelon sucker handed to me by a peppy, twenty three year old blond woman who drove her sensible green Honda here from the suburbs. Now, we live for the thrill of that flashing cursor and die to touch things and people again like they actually mean something to us.

We’re so transient.

We meet, we drink, we laugh, we move on and sometimes, we never see each other again. Sometimes we go to school, work on a seasonal fishing boat, “try out” life as a roadie and sometimes we step out into a crosswalk and in front of a truck or explosive knifefight and suddenly cease to exist. We see hundreds of people every day that matter so little to us (so many glances), we crave the one or two that do (so few stares). It’s all a blur, all this living, whizzing by you at the speed of your last good summer in that cabin by the lake with the floating dock and gorgeous young townie stocking E.L. Fudge cookies at the Trading Post. Do you remember that summer’s clandestine, frantic, moonlit love affair? Do you remember it vividly? Now, instead of holding your head pitifully in your hands, look up and slightly to the left, just in time to see your friend holding their cardboard sign, surrounded by the undulating, sun-kissed arms of five enthusiastic day laborers whose names you’ll never care to know.

7 Responses to “At The Speed Of Your Last Good Summer”

  1. I.M. In

    Great post.

    Next time you pass through Lutz, I’m in. Just text message me and I’ll hit you back on my Blackberry while watching TV on my new VPhone from Verizon.

    Hastily made cardboard sign! Do they even make those anymore you rascal?

  2. rja72

    Allright I’ll call next time I’m passing through, jeez.

    “He’s like a choir boy with ice water running through his veins.”

    -Burt Reynolds on Charlie Ward

  3. Anonymous

    Loneliness, nostalgia, fleeting satisfaction, dissatisfaction, E.L. Fudge cookies… I think that covers it. Good writing Sloan

  4. chelsie

    Excellent entry. I think you may be onto something. Forget flash mobs… now let’s try flash fan clubs. hummm…

  5. kate

    Flash fan clubs? I’m in. As long as I really get to flash. That’ll get them wanting to reach out and touch…if I do say so myself.

  6. Paradise Lakes

    Katie’s going buck again? Well alllllllright.

    Marc- keep your clothes on. We don’t need another suit in small claims court.

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