Remember when you opened the door to your own car and took hold of the steering wheel without any parental supervision. As a teen, my Chevrolet Impala was a haven away from my father. I rolled all the windows down, turned the volume up on the radio, and smoked. My secret joy was hoping the driver next to me would hear the music and notice me. If he was a suitable face I turned around and bobbed my head. Then, just as he looked over at me, I turned away, and looked in the rearview mirror, or sang my heart out to show off brazen behavior, the kind I couldn’t express at home. There was a sense of freedom from examination and explanation. When I drove my spinning Impala that leaped over road bumps in three waves, I was going somewhere alone.
It was the only self-contained space my father wasn’t attached to, and he didn’t like driving with me, because he didn’t like me being in control. That is the sensation that life brings to us in volumes as teens; explosions of discovery. Today I don’t experience that sweat of discovery; my life is deodorized. Remembering the sensations I felt as a teenager, reminds me to intertwine more challenges. If I’m lucky to break through all the percentages of disease, that the late-night commercials warn me of, the edge of my rhythm is asking me to make a commitment; to put the Bo’ Jangles back in my steps. I heard the voice yesterday, almost a whisper, asking me why I exclude long-term commitments: joining groups, classes, associations, serving on committees, planning ahead, and even magazine subscriptions are not worth the trouble because I am always planning on moving.
The answer always comes in the photographs that bring back that moment in time, and the immediate recollection of the internal places I moved from venturing into the unknown.
Many years ago, I was in therapy, and in one discussion, this discourse occurred that I considered an awakening then.
“I think you jump into unknown places, and situations, to test yourself, and you do that because that is what your father did most of his life.”
That is what adolescent behavior is meant for, to learn by experiment, to see how far our strength of character will take us. We each have a different set of alarms and temptations. Why compare what one has to the other? My path is familiar to me, I am a born mistress of unfamiliarity; the quest for discovery keeps me moving.
FORMER HOME IN SANTA FE, NEW MEXICO 2015
As a teenager, I remember the most remarkable configuration of images, that passed by while I was driving, the faces of shopping mothers walking the streets of Beverly Hills and Westwood, the prostitutes positioned along one section of Sunset Boulevard, and their counterpart degenerate gin-soaked soul mates inched up against abandoned buildings, the Ocean Park joggers, and walkers, and picnickers, waving to each other, as they slapped together hard-boiled egg and tuna sandwiches. Like a playroom without walls for Europeans and senior citizens to elope with each other. I didn’t favor one street life over another, they all made sense to me.
Living in the Northeast calls for pragmatic and sensible strides. I’m still learning how to tame my lust for unpreparedness; like going out without an umbrella, leaving delicate brick a brac on the porch, driving with caution for deer, rabbits, and turtles, maintaining a close eye on the water in the basement, and dressing down so I don’t look like I’m from Los Angeles. Every day is experimental in some way. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, maybe that is how I like it.