My Jeep is a gas-guzzling, earth-f%$#ing beast, and if there’s not going to be a zombie apocalypse anytime soon, I should probably prep it for craigslist and trade it in for something more sensible, but I just can’t bring myself to wash the layers of dirt off and bring the military-brown paint to a shine.
It’s not that I have a special place in my heart for poorly designed, American-made cars, but there are just too many memories in the cramped second and third row of seats, kids piling in, pushing against each other and against their own boredom on the way to Zion, falling asleep on each others’ shoulders and then waking up, seeing the ground covered in snow. The Jeep is scarred with small dents and scratches and melted surf wax on the roof, and the sour smell of old sweat, maybe from Joshua Tree a few years ago when we talked music and running after a long, hot day in the beautiful desert.
My shoes are old, too. They have covered hundreds of miles of trail, have holes on the tops and sides, and their permeating dirt makes every sock a slight shade of brown. The padding is worn out, and I’m starting to feel it in my knees and my hips, but these things tell stories, and it’s difficult to trade those stories for something clean, shiny, and perfect. New shoes and new cars will be bought (13 miles per gallon is just not sustainable) and new stories will be written, but it’s that first wear, or that first drive that brings to mind a posed family picture on the beach where everyone is wearing matching outfits and all the smiles are forced.
I remember when I tore the top of my shoes. It was an early morning run, and it was on a steep section of a rocky trail, and the side of my right foot connected with a sharp rock, and it hurt a little, but it was a long steep hill and I had momentum, and the rocks on the trail were the kind of rocks that had to be climbed or jumped on, and if I slowed, it would be a hobbled pace, so I just kept the feet moving, and I knew that in about ten minutes, I would see the view, the sunrise. It had to be earned, and if I stopped, I’d feel that at the end, and the colors wouldn't be as bright, and the lungs and the legs wouldn't feel as good without the struggle, the fire.
I’ll take the worn out shoes, the used, busted up and broken gear, the old car, and the ripped hat because that is where the stories are. It’s in the scars, the bruises, the scratches on my car, and the holes in my shoes. Those are honest. Those are real.