It caught my eye as it drove past me.
A red Jeep Grand Cherokee.
It brought me back nearly a decade, to when I was 15 and to the first time he drove me around in his red Jeep Grand Cherokee.
My dad gave him the Precious Cargo Lecture when he came to pick me up. I think we went to McDonald’s for McFlurrys, and he spilled gas on my feet when we filled up the tank.
We drove countless miles in that red Jeep Grand Cherokee. To dinner, to the movies, to New Year’s Eve parties and summer concerts. We listened to Outkast and Dave Matthews Band and I stuck my feet out the window and closed my eyes as he hugged the curves of the road.
We spent the mornings before school making out in the front seat and the nights blasting music way too loud and planning our futures. One December I watched as that red Jeep Grand Cherokee got hit head on and ended up in a ditch on the other side of the road. I can still smell the airbags.
I shed tears in that red Jeep Grand Cherokee and I laughed until my stomach hurt. I carefully drove it when he had been drinking, and we held hands across the center console. It brought speeding tickets and trips to Blockbuster. To two high school kids, that car brought freedom and independence.
I don’t know why I remember all of this, why my high school love is burned into my mind and memories triggered at a moment’s notice. I can only surmise that one day those memories will serve their purpose. The good ones will remind me of what love should feel like and the bad ones will remind me of the things I no longer tolerate.
It’s been nine and a half years since that first drive to McDonald’s. I’ve been halfway around the world and back since that day. I’ve moved 3 times and now live a day’s drive away. He’s in medical school and every few months a “We should catch up soon!” text will pass between us but the catching up never does. That’s okay though. Sometimes the memories are better.