The Old Family Truckster Remembers Its New Car Smell

Speed is relative. Time too. My body feels pretty good, all things considered, and moves pretty well, again, in light of the raw years and also the high mileage. The watch sometimes suggests otherwise, the aches that come later, too, but I can leave the watch at home, and I can take the pain, because I’m used to it now.

I remember what it felt like to be faster, to be able to run right at my limit for mile after mile, chasing times that were never somehow good enough, relative to the other kids doing the same. I remember running with no pains echoing around, fewer incoming messages from an unwilling body. I remember not knowing or caring what my heartrate was doing.

And this is a part of the challenge for the middle-aged athlete. A lot of us were young athletes once. We got some idea of what we were capable of then. There were times when our times, even the slow ones, were 2-3 minutes per mile faster.

There are more miles on the clock now. Thousands of miles. There is sand so deep in the carpets it’ll never come out. Little accidents are in evidence everywhere, dents, but also structural damage, a right ankle sprained so many times it out to be replaced, if only that were a thing. The pistons still fire, but they need more fuel, more air, and the compression isn’t what it once was. Acceleration and top speed have both fallen away with time.

This is all in my head, of course. None of this means anything. That was then. This is now. The past was not much like I remember it, even the highly revised version, and the now is only what I can make of it.

The old family truckster remembers its new car smell, but also knows that the aroma, euphorically recalled, was likely the off-gassing of various plastics and the artificial fibers in the spotless carpets. It was toxic then, and probably still is.