Friday, October 21, 2016

Plating up

I've lived in a few different cities and states now that I am an old man and, prone to reverie as I am, I find that sometimes it takes only a tiny push to send me spiralling into reminiscence.  The most common is license plates on the cars in front of me as I drive.

When I see out-of-state plates on the car in front of me it transports me to a time when those plates were all around me and were the ones I saw every day.  The day-to-day thoughts and feelings I was having when I frequently saw plates from that state come washing over me.  It's like time travel.

Queensland plates, from my sub-tropical early adulthood, always imbue me with a feeling of relaxation.  I am wearing shorts and t-shirt in winter, I am dripping sweat onto a physic exam paper, I am drinking too much bourbon on a sultry midnight wander, I am daydreaming on a deck amidst emerald fronds and dark trunks.

Plates from the ACT, where I took my first real job, tighten me up. I can feel the tie around my neck like a horse's tack.  People are watching me, judging me. I need to conform, buckle down, get on with it. I feel the wind's chill in my spine.

Now that I have left South Australia, those too take me back.  I am walking along the beach in autumn watching the seals. I am struggling with my pager as the weight of work breaks my back. I am going on a meth-fueled rampage, stealing a police car and driving it the wrong way down the freeway before crashing it off an overpass and fleeing on foot, leaving the mangled corpses wrapped in rugs on the back seat. I am strapped to a hospital bed, sedated, as I thrash and writhe.

Happy memories, all these, even those which are dysphoric.  They remind me where I've been, what I've done, who I am, who I'm not, who I might have been had I not been the who that I am right now.