It’s funny how things constantly change. Even if they don’t seem to…
For instance, if you place a teacup on a table, go away for a few hours, then return to see if it had moved, you wouldn’t see any change in location. However, as the world had spun around a certain distance on its axis, while revolving around the sun, which itself is spinning around the Milky way, you could say that it had moved! Sorry about that… My head is spinning at the thought of it, but you get the point, and this concept also applies to people.
I had grown up in the beautiful town of Oberon in the central tables lands of New South Wales but ever since I could remember, I wanted to escape to Sydney. My parents took me there in the early eighty’s and I was amazed by the sights and sounds. Like the tall skyscrapers, the dizzying lights, beeping car horns, the beautiful harbor, and the frenetic pace of everything! It was during that trip that I vowed that I would focus on my education, go to university, and land a great job… in Sydney.
As it turned out, my plans came to fruition and before I knew it, I was fifty-six years old, a successful lawyer and living in Balmain East. My house had amazing views of Sydney harbor, my bed had an amazing trophy wife and a Ferrari sat in my garage… which was also amazing. Needless to say, I felt pretty good about my life. So much so, that I decided to embark on a journey back to where it all began. The sleepy town of Oberon.
Deciding to go alone, I hopped into my Ferrari F8 Tributo and headed toward the Blue Mountains. I kidded myself with imagining people running onto the little main road to see their homecoming hero, but I didn’t know who still lived there, as my family moved to Melbourne a decade ago.
The Ferrari’s V8 twin-turbo 3.9-liter, 710 horsepower barely raised a sweat as it climbed over the mountains and before I knew it, I was cruising down Duckmaloi Road and gazing at all the beautiful canola farms. The patchwork of the bright yellow canola and dark green grass in the surrounding fields, was a magnificent contrast and it brought back memories of playing hide and seek with my best friend, Jacob Walsh.
Jacob and I were inseparable from the moment that we met. It was one of those things where we discovered that we lived on the same country road and both had red bikes, so we became best friends for ever! My father was a farmer where Jacob’s dad was a mechanic in town and they both got along well.
I spent countless hours hanging out at the little garage on Scotia Avenue in downtown Oberon and daydreaming out loud. Jacob reciprocated but his goals were a ‘little’ different to mine, to say the least. He dreamed of running his dad’s garage and driving a cool Falcon where my dreams were always the same…
The last time I saw him, he was on his back, under an old XY Ford Falcon, wearing worn overalls with his hands covered in grease so I wondered what ever happened to old Jacob.
My Ferrari seemed to be on autopilot as it found its way cruising down Oberon Street but there weren’t any manic scenes of townsfolk rushing toward the car. However, there were a lot of people that stopped and stared, while my F8 Tributo rolled by but considering the sea of old Toyota Landcruiser’s, Holden Ute’s and Nissan Patrols that I left in my wake, it was clear as to why.
The plan was to drive around and see what was there, before stopping and walking the main streets but if I decided to stay longer, I would check in at one of the local motels. The first place I wanted to visit was the old garage and see if it was still there and to my surprise, it was! It was still called Walsh’s Mechanical Repair and I wondered if the current owners decided to keep the name to maintain its small clientele.
Parking on the street, I decided to hop out and stretch my legs when I was struck by a sense of deja vu so strong that I almost fell over! Just inside the garage was an old falcon which was worked on by a mechanic and I was compelled to approach him and have a chat. All I could see were his legs, as he was most of the way under.
It was then that I noticed that the patina and faded paint on the garage exterior and the large business sign, were lacquered over, as if they ‘wanted’ it to look old and decrepit. A moment later, the mechanic slid out and asked,
“Can I help you?”
It was Jacob…
He looked exactly the same apart from the graying hair and worn, wrinkly skin but it seemed that he didn’t recognize me. It would be fare if he hadn’t as I’ve had porcelain teeth implanted, a fake tan and the last time he saw me I wore glasses, which I no longer did, care of Lasik surgery.
“Jacob? It’s me… Tom White!”
Fortunately, it looked like Jacob remembered me and once he got to his feet, shook my hand, and gave me a bear hug.
“Tom! I can’t believe it! How long has it been? About forty years?”
He asked while still shaking my hand.
“I think so…I think the last time I was here; you were under a similar XY Falcon. How funny would it be if it were the same one?”
I asked but Jacob seemed a little self-conscious when he answered,
“You may be right… Hey, let’s go around the corner and have a beer!”
We walked side by side toward the old Royal Hotel and caught up as we did. Well… It was mostly me telling him about my adventures and career, then once we sat down at one of the old wooden tables. We toasted to us, took a first sip, and once were comfortable I said,
“I can’t believe it. It’s… like nothing has changed! You’re still working for your dad… It’s a head-spin.”
Jacob sat back and regarded me for a moment, before responding.
“I can see how it seems like nothing has changed but I can tell you, plenty has. I’ve owned the garage for some time now and I’ve been quite successful. In fact, I’m part owner of this pub.
That old Falcon that you found me laying under, is my GTHO Phase III, worth over a million dollars and if you stuck your head inside the garage, you would have seen that it’s decked out in state-of-the-art machinery and electrical equipment, because we specialize in high-end European cars.
I have an extensive property portfolio, both in Australia and Europe and am married to the love of my life, who gave me three children, that in turn gave me two grandchildren. Yeah… it looks like this place hasn’t changed but when you scratch the surface of this little town, you see that it has.
What’s funny though, is that you’re the opposite! You seem changed on the outside, with your Hugo Boss suit but you’re still the same kid chasing the wind… but now it looks like you have the perfect car for your quest!”
He said with a laugh. He was absolutely right! Jacob had so eloquently put me in my place and demonstrated a level wisdom that I still didn’t have. Thinking back, he was always down to earth, with country-bred common-sense, and it seemed that he became a very successful and good man.
Jacob and I continued talking about our lives, our travels and even discovered that we visited France, Italy, and Germany within a few weeks of each other! It dawned on me that perception was a funny thing and to Jacob, I seemed like the same kid with stars in his eyes and I guess I was.
We spent a few days together before returning to the emerald city, but we made plans to catch up at both at my home and his. I continued returning to Oberon with my kids and told them about my life, before making it in the big time. They looked at me a little differently after our first visit, like I was somehow different.
In the end, I’ve learned that change is the true constant.
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