It was crisp today, cool and clear. High of 70, and puffy clouds here and there. I still cant get used to it, although I love it deeply. I’d finished up some work on what we at Microsoft call a “Vision Document” which is often a critical component of driving new features and change in our products and often requires a lot of work and research.
At the same time, in some other place, it’s 100 degrees in Dallas, Texas and 12 year old me is on my bike. I was proud of my bicycle, a two handbrake model with a reverse chain mechanism. Hardy and well built, I had a water bottle attachment and special racing pads on the cross bar to help prevent testicular impalement upon hitting too sharp an incline. Toiling against both humidity and heat, I headed past the local Mister-T convenience store to break all the rules my mother had laid down regarding my roaming territory so I can reach the 7-11 across LBJ Highway 635 at Abrams road.
Both of me in this story suddenly need, need, a slurpee.
In the present tense, I had missed 7.11.2010, free slurpee day. In July of the year of our Reagan/Apple/Orwell 1984, I just loved slurpees and was willing to break the rules to ride way beyond my mother’s rules for my addiction.
In both cases I have a dollar in my pocket.
I pumped my car full of gas, present day. I smelled the same fumes and exhaust my 12 year old self smelled on that long overpass over the highway. Under a bright sky that might as well have been a Texas one, sans the heat, I put the pump back in the lock. Just a walk away was the slurpee machine.
You parked your bike ahead of the door back then. There weren’t lock slots. Bike’s didn’t easily give up their wheels to take them inside. Every time you ran into any convenience store you ran the risk of losing your ride. In that world, your bike was like your horse in the old west. It was your companion through thick and thin. Quad plastic spokes on cheap rubber tires. A metal frame adorned by cheap foam circular padding.
In one world you ordered the slurpee, in another you make it yourself. In both cases I hand over a dollar for a coca-cola flavored slurpee.
In 1984 I sip it slowly outside the 7-11 while I watch my bike and risk brain freeze. In 2010 I remember that moment and take a short draw through the straw while I hope the wormhole opens. It does, in a way I didn’t expect. It opens like coke silk, the freeze smoothing out the carbonation along the tongue to a clean finish. It’s a taste time trip, and I even close my eyes and think about how later the spoon shaped tip of the straw will mean I can’t finish the drink with it, because of how it will melt such that the suction wont work anymore.
It’s 2010 and I’m 37 and my car is in sight and I am holding a slurpee, a drink I have not intentionally bought in probably 20 years. It’s 1984 and my bike is next to me and I have only a few more minutes to drink my slurpee before I can race back such that my mother didn’t know I was outside her clearly defined roaming zone.
It’s cool. It’s hot. It’s now, it’s then.
I get in the car and sit for a moment, then turn the ignition. A comfortable hum settles around me, my iPhone starts playing the music I had been listening too before filling up.
But with the sugary cold taste in my mouth now, I feel two young hands wrap around plastic knobbed grips and slightly metallic hand brakes and the Texas sun blazes and all at once in both worlds, everything’s all right.