‘Your Old Car Can Go Home Again’ by Ray LaPorte
You Can’t Go Home Again, But Your Old Car Can
I left my old home town for good nearly 25 years ago, after spending a rich early career helping to rebuild its historic structures and fading reputation. And, although I have few opportunities to walk her streets or visit old haunts, friends or family, I have recently and inexplicably found myself going there in vivid dreams. Last year, out of the blue, my first Lowell dream in memory saw me getting up the courage to finally kiss my 8th grade crush on the corner of Textile and 4th Avenues. And this winter I awoke after cruising Pawtucketville in my old 1961 MGA, a car that I bought from a Lowell friend 14 years ago, but had never driven in Lowell.
I recently and reluctantly decided in February to sell her, as my Martha’s Vineyard life is a bounty of playful distractions. The car’s diminishing use was inadequate to justify monopolizing precious winter garage space for my wife’s use. I was ready to sell the old beauty to a guy in Rhode Island, but decided first to give her prior owner and old Lowell friend a call to see if he would want her back. And after a flurry of enthusiastic phone calls, e-mails and car pictures that included one with my two-year-old grandson in the driver’s seat, it was agreed that she would journey back home to her old Lowell family.
Maggie left the island on Tuesday atop a flat bed and now is happy back in Lowell with Dave, Mary and their grown girls, taking up residence next door to my former family home on Andover Street and fifty feet from my old bedroom where I first dreamed. They will be joyfully driving Miss Maggie around Lowell again, and so my recent dream of her there has come true, except I’m not in the driver’s seat. However and happily, I have been promised that she could return home to me when my grandson is ready to drive her. Indeed, going home again isn’t just a dream.
—Ray LaPorte (c) 2011