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HOUSE OF CARS: When We Were Young, Part Two of Five

Ashley Stout/Asst. Photo Editor
House of Cars: Matt Spadaro

Part Two in a Series of Five
The razor-sharp body creases and severe, crystal-like light fixtures of Lexus’ massive LX570 give off the impression that it is the beautiful outcome of a brutal swordfight.

Many industry journalists have expressed confusion over the application of Lexus’ bizarre styling cues to a full-size luxury SUV. I, however, find the tall, wide, hulking vehicle to be outlandishly beautiful.

The door opens like a bank vault, and I slip into the fire-engine red leather seat. The obsidian black wood trim of the thick-rimmed steering wheel is one of the smoothest surfaces I have ever felt. I pull the door and it closes with a metallic thud, blocking out the bustle of the crowd outside.

Almost immediately, I think to myself that this would be a great moment to post a snap story. I shot down that idea, because at this time, I was a week free of Snapchat.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

Yes, Snapchat’s live stories of cities worldwide are exceedingly cool; I loved checking in on New York on the off chance that the story was available nationwide, as it is every few weeks or so. I was also sending and receiving snaps, posting to my own story and checking other people’s stories ad nauseam.

The amount of ideas this began to put into my head about who was excluding me on purpose and who was doing what was at best wasteful, at worst unhealthy. It was affecting my time management, my ability to pay attention and the security of my friendships.

A week into this cleanse of sorts, I traveled to Greenville with three friends to attend the South Carolina International Auto Show. This marked the first time in three years that I was able to attend an auto show; the event, while small by national standards, was worlds better than not attending one at all.

The show, hosted by popular automotive media giant Motor Trend, took place at the TD Convention Center.

Automakers such as Ford, Lexus, Hyundai (with the G80 of their newly separate Genesis luxury brand in tow as well), Toyota, Honda, the full range of GM Brands aside from Cadillac and others were in attendance. I couldn’t tell you how many times I initially went to pull out my phone to post a picture of the vehicles I sat in.

Then, I realized something: this was my time to enjoy, to poke interior panels of different models, to inhale the different new car scents that seem to vary by manufacturer. It was my time to enjoy the thing I love most in this world, not my followers’. It was my time to make up for all of the years I have missed the New York International Auto Show because I’ve been attending Clemson.

“When We Were Young” by Adele has just started to play out of the Bose speaker in my bedroom as I write this.

I wouldn’t trade my time at Clemson for attending a yearly auto show. I wouldn’t trade my time at Clemson for anything in the world. I wouldn’t trade a minute of the experiences, relationships and accomplishments I’ve been lucky  to experience here for anything. But it is not lost on me that, being from Brooklyn, I am a world from home.

I have experienced waves of varying homesickness throughout college, and as of late, it seems to be running decidedly strong within me. This auto show, which was probably a moderately entertaining afternoon to the friends I was lucky enough to convince into going with me, was actually a harrowing moment of homesickness. The New York show is an event for the books every year for someone who loves cars, and it is one of my absolute favorite childhood pastimes with my dad. For as long as my memory reaches back, my father and I attended the show. I would get a free pass to miss school, we would spend the entire day going from car to car in the Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan, and he would top off this Superbowl of a day for me with a brand new model car, every time. They still line the shelves of my bedrooms in my Brooklyn homes.

Adele is right when she asks the person of interest in her song if she can “photograph them one last time in this light,” for it actually may turn out to be the last time one may experience things the way they were. In going to school 800 miles away, I never — not for one single minute — considered the small traditions I would forfeit throughout the year. It does not get easier.

My friends Tom, Stephen and Oliver all begin to exit the Lexus, and I realize that I had barely noticed them getting in because I was so absorbed in these memories.

To this day, I can still remember the soft grain of the leather, the smoothness of the black lacquered wood and the permeating scent of expensive in the LX570’s cabin. Most importantly, however, I can remember the distinct feeling of home the moment gave me, the childhood memories that came charging back into my mind ever so briefly.

The fact that I wasn’t busy snapchatting the entire outing helped me to enjoy the moment – to enjoy the small taste it gave me of being home and of the industry I so desperately want to be in. It made less, even just for two hours, the hollow longing for home I have had since Christmas Break.

Even still, one more absence from the New York Auto Show is more than worth it to be a Clemson Tiger. Many of us experience the struggle of needing to leave home but wanting to stay; I would positive that Clemson is an incredible place to experience that feeling.

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