I got out of the house today. Away from the moving boxes and donation bins. Away from the heavy air. My friend Alberto and I went to the Goodguys car show here in Phoenix. The plan was to lose myself for a few hours amongst the old cars and older white guys in Tommy Bahama shirts.
I've been to the show before and always joke about its predictability. When you go to Goodguys you know you will be surrounded by more '64 to '70 Mustangs and '62 to '70 Chevy C10s than you can count. There is one car that absolutely dominates the circuit: 1955 to 1957 Chevys, better know as the tri-five. It is the Honda Accord of the 1950s. Reliable and ubiquitous, the old shoe of the classic car world.
The ironic thing about the tri-five is how unique each owner feels like their car is. In this way the tri-five Chevy is the perfect vehicular embodiment of grief. Everyone has a story about a tri-five. Everyone knows someone who has one. Those that have one hang on to it fiercely. Maybe overvalue it. Maybe are completely unaware of how potentially ordinary it is. No matter how much custom work and metal flake paint has been added to it it is still a fundamentally common experience. Much like grief, the tri-five can be endlessly comfortable if you own it, but can become incredibly banal for the outsider looking in.
As we walked the show, with its 3000+ cars, it became abundantly clear that at least 10% of the cars present were going to be tri-fives. At that point I decided that I needed to turn it into an art project. I attempted to capture as many different cars as I could. I only got about 1/2 of them, not more than that. They were everywhere. I had to stop because my phone was literally dying from the stress of taking so many pictures.
After about 30 cars they all started to run together, I started to get bored with it and had to find new and exciting angles to keep up my spirits. In time it became an effort in the transmundane. The difficulty is maintaining a fresh perspective without emptying the well.
I talk a lot about what I feel like are the high-points to this loss. The feelings of alienation and loneliness. The unexpected pain of a recovered memory or a date on a calendar. I get that not everyone wants to come down to this level, the same way that I am f***ing tired of looking at tri-fives and that The Dude doesn't want to listen to The Eagles. Over time the stories become bottled up because people stop listening, people move on. This is a problem because it abbreviates the process. When you stop talking you start forgetting.
The one thing that loss does better than anything else is make you feel unique. The one thing that loss is not is unique. The thing to remember is that we are not alone in having our world turned upside down. We are all one, we may all feel unique, but we not alone. That is why it is important to keep talking, to get it out there, because it helps me and hopefully helps you too.