The car shown here is the same model but not the same car. I just wanted to give ya’ll a picture!
Sitting in the parking lot of Tim Horton’s breath heavy in our chest, we said nothing. The only thought going through our head was how grateful we were to be alive.
Senior year was just starting up. The nights were getting colder, the days were getting shorter.
It was the end of a weekend.
George and I were bored. Boredom and Lewiston Maine seemed to go hand in hand. For two underage high school kids that weren’t quite in with the close knit ‘cool kids’ we were struggling to find something to do.
I’m not sure what our goal was but sitting in the hard booth at Tim Hortons we were both making calls to friends to see who was doing what.
Thomas wasn’t up for anything. Matt was the same, and my list of people grew pretty short pretty fast.
George on the other hand was always the social butterfly. He came from a different crew of people with different connections. I wasn’t familiar with any of them but I was willing to tag along and play driver if it meant entertainment.
Eventually he perked up. There happened to be a group of random people causing a ruckus. Having no other pressing things to attend to we hopped in my car.
It was a white Chevy Lumina, aka a giant boat on wheels with a big engine and peeling white paint. It was my old babysitter’s car. She wasn’t able to drive anymore so my family had taken care of the car. And so it was ‘mine’, aka I was given permission to drive it.
Maine is a dark place during the fall and winter months. If you drive through the quiet town roads you might need to use your high beams just to ward away the oppressive darkness. The street lights were aging and only produced dim halos of light as you drove by.
The roads themselves were bumpy and curvy. The icy months of January and February often would warp the roads with frost heaves, leaving pot holes or bumps and cracks. The small sharp hills occluded your view but were fun to speed up on. We could get a head rush if done correctly.
Making our way off Sabattus Street we turned onto Old Greene road a winding side street enveloped in the darkness. Halos of light passing us by as we crept ever deeper into what seemed like a dark forest. If I looked carefully I could see dim lights from houses nestled in the trees.
Finally we arrived.
George and I notice immediately what was happening. Someone in the group decided they wanted to ‘jump’ their Jeep over a speed hump and were progressively going faster and faster toward it. The Jeep was an older open top or cloth covered Jeep with big off roading wheels. This wasn’t uncommon due to the turbulent Maine winters.
The engine revved, the tires squeaked and the pedal was slammed to the ground. The Jeep roared down the hill toward the speed hump and…. It went over easily. It was an anticlimactic event, much like many things in Lewiston Maine.
Some of the people milling around the yard came over to talk to George apparently armed with whipped cream. He ended up getting brutalized with sugary deliciousness, as did the side of my car.
There had obviously been something going on that was just now dissolving. Neither of us saw a future out there so we decided to turn tail and head home.
About 5 minutes down the road I noticed another car in my rearview. It was hightailing it down the street toward us, clearly from the group we had just left. George wheeled around to look behind as they came up behind and discovered the driver was the driver was an unfavorable person. Being competitive we exchanged a look between us and a heavy foot hit the gas.
The large engine came to life as it guzzled gas and the car leapt forward.
The curvy dark road was a direct shot back to town. At this time of night it wasn’t heavily used so the car behind us came up neck and neck to my car. I noticed that because of the rain earlier that day, leaves had washed to the side of the road making it a dangerous spot to hit.
George gave me encouragement from the passengers side and I focused intently on the curves and turns in the road.
Coming around a bend and up a hill my worst fear lit up my face.
Headlights were coming the opposite direction.
It didn’t matter if it was a cop or not, a collision on a road like this wouldn’t end well for anyone.
My foot immediately hit the brakes and the car beside us sped past. I could feel the car jerking us toward a grassy incline on the side of the road. The wet leaves making the tires slip. Mailboxes and telephone poles flew by my passenger side mirror, missing it by mere inches.
George next to me bracing himself for the certain impact.
It never came.
Seconds later we pull out of the turn and onto a main road. In shock.
We didn’t say much to each other on the way back. We were simply shocked that we didn’t meet our end on that dark cold road.
It was an experience we both wanted to avoid in the future.
We arrived back at Tim Hortons, leapt out of the car and circled it in panic. We were absolutely certain we damaged something.
Besides whipped cream the car was untouched.
Again in amazement we had both had enough. We hopped into our respective cars and headed home, alive.
Pushing the limits in situations like this felt pretty common. As I got older my world grew bigger. I was able to do more, experience more and test my ever expanding limits.
Speeding down a dark, curvy, wet road in the middle of the night sounds pretty stupid but it was one of the ways my fearlessness came through.
If this was a situation happening today I can guarantee you this story would have ended a lot sooner.
My point isn’t that teens are stupid, my point is that they aren’t afraid to test the limits of what is possible. This was dangerous, yes, but it is an example of how I would push myself and others around me to do and experience more.
This isn’t uncommon. I’m sure a lot of people have a story of something stupid they did. I’ve just chosen to see this in a different way. To learn that by not driving like a crazy asshole I would have missed out on an experience that changed me and a friend.
Looking back through my high school years I can see how my life could have been quite different had I not taken certain risks or pushed myself out of my comfort zone.
Looking back, I can see a lot.