When I was a little kid I collected Hot Wheels cars. I had a plastic case full of cars I dropped into slots. I organized the cars and reorganized them occasionally based upon whatever value I wanted to explore in them. I could arrange them by color, by their speed, by their heaviness. Heavy cars could be dropped down the back slopes of old tubs and ride the length of the tub all the way to the drain. I could float on my stomach in the tub, wearing a mask and snorkel and watch cars crawl below, across the vast expanse of a white sandy ocean floor.
I lined them up. I slept with them, certain talismans to take me to super dreams I could hold beneath the pillow. Every time my mom came to visit my brother and I, every Wednesday, she bought me a Hot Wheels car. They’re incredibly durable, accurate to a scale of 1:64 which gives them a kind of mathematical majesty all their own, and there are thousands and thousands of different models to collect.
My brother liked novelty gimmicks. If you gave him a jar of slime and some fake dog turds, you…got bad behavior reports. I collected the cars because they were tied to a visit from mom. These were carriages of the heart. I could launch them out of high-powered sling shots right through bottles. I could flatten them on railroad tracks. I particularly loved the abstract shiny scabs the trestles formed of those cars.
I collected other things. I collected rocks, all kinds of polychromatic stones I tumbled. I had a rock tumbler and rolled rocks within the rubber drum in different slurries to smooth and polish the stones. Unfortunately, most of those stones were launched from my slingshot.
Now that I’m an adult, I don’t collect the little cars. I don’t need to because my five-year-old son collects them. He has hundreds of them, maybe a thousand. I used to catalog and group them. I found myself organizing his collection. I’d take note of missing or damaged units and replace them.
I go to the store and buy bunches of them and keep them in the trunk of my car. I find reasons to give them. I thought I might scan a few and try to keep a digital archive, but my scanner took these blurry, tilt-shift focus looking jobbers.
If my soul and brain are ever absorbed by digital carnivore, I’ll become a program capable of interacting with these images. I’m hoping a cybernetic horde of nano-piranha swarm over me like a black eraser and release my quanta into a digital world where I can ride in one of these tokens from memories of my mom. Me, Stephen Hawkins, Gandhi and a pack of wine coolers.