Thrown for a loop

I’ve been running lately around Pacific Grove and Monterey, partly to get exercise and to feel good, but also partly to explore. There are numerous alleys, park pathways, hills and offshoots to explore, and I never fail to see something new. In front of one particular stretch, a faded blue Peugeot from the 80’s sits in a driveway, perpendicular to an old American sedan with a bumper sticker that reads, “Jesus is my chauffer, He drives me”. Just past the conservative sedan, a late 80’s Subaru wagon shows off a large herbivorous mammalian skull riding shotgun:

I like to peek in this car, and the mid-90’s Toyota sedan parked just a few feet away, and to concoct stories about who owns them. The detritus is ever shifting, with some elements being added to the substrate, some vanishing, and some remaining a constant. There is certainly no discernible system of organization–but somehow, it screams out to me “Grad school student, science major! A collector of curios and obscure information!”. I suspect that the owner of the car pictured next may be the same as the owner of the car we just peered inside. Or maybe they’re well-paired room mates or have some other close relationship. Take a look:

Is it alive? Is that large beverage for the iguana? Is that lizard comfortable sitting on top of that Kirkland box, wedged behind the driver’s seat?

This lizard is, very clearly, no longer alive. It used to sit behind the left rear passenger’s head rest, with dried out scales flaking on to the upholstery, skin delaminating from the body, and a specimen tag hanging from its open maw. Was it a beloved pet? A fearsome wild animal bravely subdued, killed and cataloged by a dedicated taxonomist in the name of science? A treasured heirloom passed down from parent to child? The Grateful Dead sticker on the window only adds more questions. The stories grow richer.

Sometimes if you’re in the right place and ¬†happen to be paying attention, you will find yourself trying to make sense of something, where none ever really existed in the first place.