A roadtrip they never took

Can’t remember where I read that decluttering is a healthy activity. Let the past go, wash away those aspirations of selling a battered Kenner Millenium Falcon on Ebay. You had too many fun times at the park with it and now it resembles Harrison Ford’s hip.

Earlier today, before that heavy sleet made it impossible to drive anywhere, I took two boxes of NFL Digest, a bunch of old newspapers, soda pop bottles, and tatty, old clothes to a recycling center. My plan for clearing the entire room this afternoon came to a grinding halt as an old shoebox popped out from behind a grandfather clock.

This belongs to my brother! Curiosity superseded respect, so I opened it. I just had to. It was filled with letters, postcards, and cassette tape booklets. The sticky husks of a few pantry moths dangled from a few hole ridden photographs.

I look around for a thick plastic box. It’s not in my heart to trash these things yet, and they should be fairly safe in the box. Before archiving, I take another gander at the contents, and at the bottom, still sealed, a letter with stamps from the USA. Can it be from her. How long has it been? Thirty years already! Who in tarnation gave time a permit to warp nine through in our life?

The wind roars outside and an odd gust of polar wind slips through the outworn window seals. I pick my dad’s old knife and with a swift cut, I open the letter. A powerful aroma of coconut and pineapple engulfs the room. Two ancient scratch-n-sniff stickers spring out of the envelope. One reads “soy la des-cocada”. It has the image of a coconut sweet sold in Mexico known as “cocada”. The other has a hippie looking pineapple with the caption “right on!” on it. God knows what sort of chemicals they used on that stuff, or anything aimed at kids, back when I was just another latchkey kid waiting for ALF to show on screen.

It was a long letter, the one that spans several pages, a serious amounts of asides, and the occasional local joke. She asks about all of us, wondering if we are okay after our parents’ divorce. A surge of old hidden memories, colder than the gust of wind, pierces through my heart.

Something else was inside the envelope. Remember those rickety white and green pages for printers? There it was, waiting for the great finale at the back of the envelope. The title of document read “Next stop: Pismo. HANG TEN!”. Too many tracks, spanning their better years, when the future was so bright, they had to wear shades. Everybody wanted to rule the world and asked their significant others “who’s gonna drive you home tonight?” I was probably too young to dedicate any tracks, but they both were the right age, at the right time. Or so say the myriad nostalgia bait pop culture we consume.

I put the letter away, aching to remember their fates. When I was a kid, I thought they were the perfect couple. Time erodes all illusions into oblivion. I seal the plastic box and leave the room. Enough emotional archaeology for a day.

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