GRAND PRIX WEEKEND


There are good weekends. There are great weekends. There are unforgettable weekends. And then there are the weekends whose moments you hold dear, whose ghostly laughs and late-night antics you bury within the recesses of your heart.

On the last Saturday in April, I spent some time visiting Shakti at her lovely historic home. She and I sat outside, in the sunshine, talking of home repairs, relationships, and her puppy, Toaster. I hadn't seen Shakti for quite some time, so it was nice to catch up. All too soon, I had to leave her home and head to Purdue.

It was Grand Prix weekend, which brings to mind parties, early-morning drunkenness, costumed bar-goers, clusters of alumni, busy streets, crazy hours, loud noises, and good times. (What it really should bring to mind is the race itself--Grand Prix was a tradition that began in 1958, an event that would exhibit students' skills and enthusiasm. Today, the go karts that compete in the 50-mile race are all built around the same Yamaha KT-100 engine.)

The teams whose karts are participating in the race obsess over the details, and try to figure out how to make their karts run harder, better, faster, stronger. Meanwhile, students pack the campus bars during Grand Prix week. They host parties. They skip class. Alumni drive to West Lafayette, or fly into town, in hopes that they'll be surrounded by familiar faces. They're looking for a good time; they're looking for nostalgia.

I managed to find both in the second-to-last booth at Harry's. At first, it was just Zoë and I talking to each other over the music and over our drinks. Soon enough, Ty joined us, fresh off the road. 

"Oh, my God!" Zoë exclaimed, looking up at Ty. "IT CAME!" 

Ty furrowed his eyebrows. "It?" he said incredulously. 

We girls laughed, happy for his safe arrival from Evansville and eager for the rest of the night's antics. 

One by one, they came. Tyler. Nathan. Jay. 

All of us, all six of us, had worked together at The Exponent. It'd been three years since I had graduated, and yet there we were, explaining to others that we all used to work together. "She was my boss." "They were on the copy desk." "He wrote sports." We sat in that booth and rambled on about "the good times," talked about the changes in the paper, and knocked back the shots that Jay insisted on buying. 

"This tastes like cough syrup! What the hell is this? Jay! Why would you do this to me?" 

We sang along to Tom Jones. We swayed to the music. We bumped elbows and accidentally kicked each other under the table. We shared popcorn and simultaneously laughed when Ty--whose style is best described as "lumberjack"--was told by Robbie Hummel that his outfit was "money." 

Truth be told, Ty had been hesitant to come to Purdue that night. He was still tired from all of the driving he had done the week before--Evansville to Indy, Indy to Chicago, Chicago to Milwaukee. He was thinking of the party-goers, too, and the crowds, and the noise. But, here he was, in our old haunt, his arm around my waist. 

"Worth it?" I breathed into his ear. 

"Absolute."

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