Man at midlife making second half matter

Archive for the category “nostalgic”

Nostalgia for the Chevrolet Corvair – and Youth

There’s something about certain cars that causes me to immerse in a wave of nostalgia.

Today while doing an errand, strolling through a parking lot full of late model SUVs, sedans and minivans, I came upon a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair Corsa that stopped me in my tracks.

I’m not a gearhead by any means and know relatively little about cars. But I love certain iconic cars that remind me of my youth, from the late 1960s through the 1970s: the Ford corvair-2Pinto, Ford Maverick and Ford Mustang; the AMC Gremlin, AMC Pacer (introduced to later generations as the Wayne’s World car) and AMC Javelin; the Chevy Vega, Chevy Camaro and Chevy Nova; the Dodge Dart Swinger; the Opel Manta and the VW Karmann Ghia. I collected Matchbox cars as a kid – that may account for some of my fascination.

The look of the Corvair always intrigued me. I don’t know why. It looks almost like a sports car, but not quite. It’s got the unusual four headlights in front, like an extra set of eyes, and four little round red tail lights in back, like flashing doughnuts. Its body seems really flat and low to the ground. It’s just cool. And you rarely see them on the roads these days.

As I snapped a photo and stood to admire the old-timer in a sea of infants, the owner approached and began talking to me. He must have been accustomed to people stopping to examine his car. He told me he owned three Corvairs, including one he originally purchased in 1965. The model he was driving this day was an Aztec rust-colored 1966 Corvair Corsa that he purchased about 25 years ago from a farmer who advertised the car for sale on his property. We talked for about five minutes about the novelty of driving a 50-year-old Corvair today, and how the model gained national attention when consumer protection advocate Ralph Nader went on a crusade claiming the Corvair was unsafe.

Some of my fascination also is plain nostalgia for my youth, when times seemed simpler, when I felt more free, unbound by the typical worries, responsibilities, expectations and pressures of adulthood.

Whenever I see NFL Films footage from the 1960s and 1970s, the slow motion football shots with grass flying and players grimacing inside helmets, with the symphonic music, it immediately takes me back to that more innocent time.

In my early 50s, I have become more nostalgic not so much for my boyhood youth, but for the most carefree time of my adulthood, my relative youth, when I transitioned from my frigid upstate New York college to the palm trees and sunshine of Gulf Coast Florida. I moved back to the Northeast after two years, but frequently find myself reminiscing about the more laid-back, tropical environment I experienced. Recently I’ve been pondering making a return to a similar, more casual and warmer region from the busier, fast-paced, colder Northeast.

Seeing the Corvair brings me back in time, just like my memories of living on a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico, which I memorialized in my book, Three Yards and a Plate of Mullet.

The Corvair is frozen in time – a decade of production ceased in 1969 – but I’m not. I have to examine whether my yearning is merely nostalgia or something in my gut telling me that something more nourishing for my spirit is beckoning me on the horizon.

Man at Midlife

My wife has been talking recently about planning my 50th birthday party. For chrissake, I’m still just 48! Let’s not rush it. I really don’t want to think about it. It shocks me. But it’s going to happen (I certainly hope). When I think about my younger self, 50 seems really old, like that’s not just my dad, it’s nearly my grandpa! I’ve noticed myself becoming a lot more nostalgic in the last few years. So many things remind me of childhood or college or my bachelor days. Part of the nostalgia is the feeling that back then, way back then, I was free, unencumbered, with limitless possibilities and limited responsibilities. Now, of course, it’s totally different.

I don’t feel 48. I’m in good shape physically. I play recreational soccer with people half my age, and can at least hold my own. I’m pretty sure I’m the oldest player in the league, which numbers about 200 players. Sometimes getting beat by a young gun makes me contemplate retirement from the game, but it’s the one thing that reminds me most of being a kid and it’s too much fun, so I keep re-upping for another season. I played varsity tennis in college and still compete in high-level leagues, and can give younger players a good battle. I run to stay in shape. It used to be easier. I’m feeling the effects of age on my stamina.

My daughter is preparing for the SAT and is a year-and-a-half from college. She’s got her drivers learner’s permit. I remember her keeping me up all night with colicky crying. I can see her becoming a young woman. I’m trying to get used to the idea of letting her go…gradually.

I’m pretty sure at least half my life is over, unless I can become one of those Centenarians featured on the Today Show. I’m terrified of the older years, so I want to make sure I leave everything on the table now. Day to day, that seems hard to do, but that is real life. By coincidence, I attended a funeral today of a co-worker who died suddenly one day last week — didn’t even make it home from work. She made it to the parking garage, had trouble breathing, an ambulance was summoned, and the next day, her desk was empty. Made me think you can never be sure you’ll make it home again.

I plan to write about my life and thoughts as I go through this midlife period, now as an experienced parent whose kids still need him, but not as much, as a mid-career man of modest success who is still searching for that passion, as a second-time husband still trying to get marriage right, as a new student who graduated college more than half a life ago. If you find something of yourself in these musings, I’d be interested to read your comments.

Post Navigation