“Sell the damn thing. It’s okay baby I don’t need it where I am, I’ve got one that runs great!” That’s what I hear him saying. It’s just weeks before what would have been my beloved Max Middleton’s 63rd birthday. He was a Halloween baby, the spook. I’m wondering if per chance he will show up this year to go trick or treating on a new motorcycle, a six pack of Bud in his saddlebags, with him wearing his signature tattered black sweatshirt and cut off jeans…yes he wore daisy dukes whenever he could, after all he was from “goddamn harlan kentucky”. Just watch him here for a good ole boy audition… http://youtu.be/cBuQyhi_VvM
Max used to say it was kind of cool to have everybody dress up for his birthday. I just didn’t have the heart to tell him it was for the pagan holiday, though he was a sort of pagan. Fitting. Such little things are better left unsaid anyway, don’t you think? Anyway Max’s 1984 Honda Magna was sold on ebay and got picked up Saturday morning by a guy who wants to restore and ride it. He lives in Santa Monica and commutes to LAX where he works for Delta. Thank the Goddess Honda it runs. I was blessed with my friend Dan’s offer to put the bike in top running order which I immediately took! After having the seat reupholstered and replacing a few very necessary parts, paying 2 years of delinquent registration fees (ouch) and posting the bike for 3 weeks on ebay, it sold. Did I get the amount I was asking? No. And for those close to me this would come as a big surprise. I’ve been known to drive a hard bargain in my favor. But after the guy had signed the papers, the money was exchanged, I handed him Max’s infamous rarely worn Honda Magna tshirt and blew through an entire box of tissues as the guy rode away, I breathed a sigh of relief.
A lot of my sweet Maxie’s and my history revolves around his being on the road, his vehicles breaking down and me coming to pick him up at the mechanic or on Benedict canyon, laurel canyon, mulholland drive…or at the theatre 68 parking lot near sunset and western. Max was not big on finding the time to do the mechanic thing before the jeep or bike broke down. Of course most people don’t visit their grease monkey until its too late, so my guy wasn’t alone in the “later-on” club. The sale is bittersweet, but that ain’t bad…bittersweet chocolate is my fave.
Letting go of my sweetheart’s stuff may be a challenge for me, but in my heart I know he is always with me, even if the stuff triggers memories like an AK-47 at a carnival shooting booth. Bullseye! Kapow! I get the pity prize. Each piece of memorial hoarding has the capacity to knock me down, then invariably I get up and Bam! I pick up another this or that and throw it in the box to donate or sell if I can…You’d think that I’d be done after 14 months, but you see, my dear one was the proverbial pack rat. I should have capitalized that name but instead…now I am selling off stuff to Capitalize on the clutter that still surrounds me.
Yes, I know you can hear me sweetheart, wherever in the great beyond you are these days. And I know you agree. When we were first together I offered to help him organize his messy Beverly Hills adjacent apartment. I foolishly thought it a fun challenge since up to that moment I had never seen such organized disarray. He just had a shit load of stuff. We donated then too.
When he moved from his one bedroom apartment into my, then our home, I was shocked at the amount he had amassed and stored in that small space. Weeks after his passing my kids helped me send several truckloads to charity. Actually I now believe Max’s stuff still has the power to regenerate… its as if the damn stuff grows back. Pop! A jacket appears. Hot damn, I thought I got rid of that at the garage sale. Wham! Another pair of sunglasses or reading glasses surfaces as I find myself cursing the 99cents only stores! I am still uncovering items in rooms I thought I had already cleared out …you’d think I lived in a multi room mansion filled with winter and summer wardrobes, hunting gear, skeet shooting paraphenalia, like Downton Abbey! Or did I maybe Only dream I had sorted, boxed and donated? No. I did. Where is this stuff coming from? Creepy.
Then there’s the 1984 Jeep Renegade cJ7, Max’s other “ride”. You could take the “boy” out of the country, but not the country out of the boy. I truly believe there was a part of Max still stuck in late 1960’s rural Kentucky… Every now and then it would surface like sporadic reruns of the Dukes of Hazard, Mayberry RFD or even Gomer Pyle. I found it endearing, Because I love/d him deeply. Funny how I see it more clearly now. Ah, how grief and time gives us perspective. Back to the Jeep.
I used to muse about reupholstering the seats, installing new belts…tires, plus our new and improved regular maintenance schedule. And he’d respond with, “…Maybe later, when I book a film.” And I’d shut up about it, because I could see he kinda liked the funkiness of the Renegade, just the way it was, him being a quasi renegade himself. The man who touted “Embracing Sacred Change” was contradicting himself and I wasn’t about to call him on it … Even though I REALLY wanted to. Why? Cause I loved him for his friggin idiosyncrasies, but sometimes he was deluding himself, that’s why!
Anyway. Max died August 2012. Then, Last year, in October, I hired a friend who said he could fix the Jeep. He didn’t. I won’t go into all the rotten detail about the money or the mess or the sadness I felt when I asked him exactly when he knew he was in over his head and he said “November”. If I talk about the fiasco I want to cry. I know better. Lesson learned. Besides I’ve said more than enough already. Yawn. Thankfully, my friend Dan came on the scene in time to to make things right, and he does know what he is doing…and he is methodical about it. The saints be praised.
Now I really AM restoring MY vintage vehicle. The Jeep was in both our names…for now it is mine and I’m fixing the damn thing up so very, very nice. It’s even got a brand new rebuilt engine, carburetor, timing belt, water pump, hoses, wires, interior, tires, wheels, roof, blah, blah, and more blah…Almost everything is either new or restored and when I’m done I’m going to sell it too! To the best buyer…someone who will get another 30 years out of it. Them darn things are built to last. God I’m now sounding like a hillbilly myself. Too bad Maxie wasn’t built to last …well his body wasn’t…his spirit is still going like the Energizer bunny…and will probably go on forever if I know Max. Such is life, loss and the zen of Jeep cj7’s.
Letting go is the sacred change I have embraced, sometimes tentatively and often with the not-so- gentle-cosmic-push Max’s passing has graciously provided. And still I embrace it. Dealing with transforming and letting go of these silly old manly “to the Max” vehicles is transporting me into my own new life.
I’ll keep in touch. That is if you follow me. Go on, I know you can do it. Until then…