August 28, 2015

Friday Night Lights... again

I stepped out of the front door tonight and headed to my pickup. I had to make a quick trip to town to pick a few things up for the evening. As I neared my truck, I could hear a muffled crowd in the distance let out a yell. I wondered for just a fraction of a second, because that's the exact amount of time I needed to remember... it was Friday Night in Texas and football season had begun. But Friday nights in Texas are much more than just football.
As I drove to town, a sentiment settled over me and my mind returned to the fall of 1975. Our Friday night ritual was to leave home early and to go have a burger at Greg's Bakery or Dairy Queen. Four or five of us would squeeze in to the less than accommodating booths that filled the restaurant and we'd gorge ourselves with burgers, onion rings and gallons of soda or sweet tea. Afterwards we'd pile into our hotrods and head to the stadium where we'd cheer on the home team in hopes of a victory.
Suddenly I was snapped back to my senses as my truck bottomed out in a pot hole the size of my grandmothers 3-ring washtub. Realizing I was almost to the store, I pulled onto the "main drag" in town. As I made my way to the store, I just kept on driving... past the store, past the bank, past the square where the courthouse sat and east out of town. My body was in 2015, but my mind was following somewhere forty years behind me. I slowly drove the "drag" and turned left into the parking lot by the car wash just like I'd done 1,000 times before in my youth.
I headed back to town and as I reached the square, the nights I had spent sitting there with friends talking about cars, school, growing up and girls seemed so recent. Some nights, I'd go up there and sit by myself for hours, silently watching the passersby headed east toward Dallas or west toward the "heart of Texas". I can't recall exactly what I would think about as I sat there all alone, but I'd like to think I pondered life and love and my future as an adult.
I pointed my truck toward the entrance of the square and pulled it right into my "spot" where I had parked that old Pontiac so many times before as a teenager. I sat there and watched the traffic go by for a few minutes, trying to mimic my youth and recapture those old feelings from yesterday.
I turned on the radio and cruised through the radio channels and as I did,  the sounds of the old Friday Nights filled the cab of my truck. Announcers were giving the scores of all the local games and they were fielding calls from disgruntled fans as well as happy fans that had just watched their team pull a win off, on this, the first Friday Night Lights celebration of Texas High School Football, 2015. I'm convinced it was the very same announcers, they just changed their names.
I sat there on the square for another 10 - 15 minutes reliving old times in my mind. In a nostalgic kind of way, I actually felt a twinge of disappointment that none of the "guys" pulled in beside me and rolled their window down and relayed an anxious "what's up"? Just for old times sake, I tuned the radio to a classic rock station and listened to several of the songs that I thought would probably be playing as I cruised up and down and back again, so long ago. It was almost like the deejay knew I'd be out there and he was playing that music just for me at that moment. Back then, "Band On The Run", "Smoke On The Water" and "Black Water" would blare through the speakers as we stood outside of our vehicles spending time and wasting our youth. Man oh man, what good times those were.
It was getting late, so I started up the old truck, backed out of my "spot" and pointed it toward home. I've always been a bit of a romantic and a dreamer and I do have a soft spot in my heart for "the old times". Many friends have reminded me over the years that the past can haunt you and that it may not be a good place to visit too often. But there are times when I hear something, see something or smell something and I'm reminded of a care-free life not so long ago, when times were slower, friends were truer, living was cheaper and boredom wasn't in our vocabulary. And one very important thing I've learned, sometimes going back there isn't a choice we make. 
I pulled into the driveway thinking of the unplanned, but pleasant time I just spent over the last hour or so. I sat there in the driveway for just a minute and allowed my emotions and state of mind to settle in before I opened the truck door. As I headed to the house, from over my shoulder, a sound was riding in and out off of the warm evening breeze. I could just make out the sounds of my high school song beginning to play. I paused for a second, enjoying the moment when it dawned on me, I had made it back home twice in one evening.
 The Impulsive Texan