Driving Ambition: A Love Story

23 Apr


The weather may still be erratic but here in NYC  we’ve already hit the upper 70’s F and that’s all it takes for me to get the ‘feeling’. I think I was born with it, my driving ambition. I am a lover of the open road, the smell of gasoline, the wind in my hair. At two years old I climbed up onto my Father’s car and I would often imagine racing along while solidly parked in the driveway. My Barbie even had a european model sports convertible that I totally coveted. My Father also had a driving ambition and we would regularly be out and about together running errands or just winding up far away on a family roadtrip, often to California. No corner stores in our neighborhood. It was nothing to drive the three hours to Seattle from Vancouver for a Sunday meal and a browse around the shops and the recent World’s Fair grounds. My bicycles were forerunners and moving out to the country meant walking or cycling for miles to get anywhere and later driving around in a friends car if they were lucky enough to have one. After graduation and a move closer to the city, I then drove across Canada at 18, pure heaven with hundreds of miles of open road, and bought my first Toyota at 19 with my own hard-earned money. From there the rest is history. I drove everywhere and whenever I could in the world, leasing cars as I went, never faithful to any model or make in particular. Although, I must admit to being rather partial to vintage sports cars. If I still happen to see a gently aged Jaguar or Porsche flash by my heart goes right along with it. If I ever had a nickname it would have been ‘speed racer’. Traffic wasn’t a real issue where I grew up, particularly in the wee hours when, full moon in sight over the water and music blaring I would take my solo night flights. It seemed a form of Zen and could make any problem vanish. My Father taught me how to clean & polish my car, how to tune the engine, fix a flat, and to beware of car salesmen. Of course, this was pre-computer so things were much simpler. Living in Manhattan for so many years has kept me from driving in the city. I walk most everywhere, or take a train to farther destinations, and leave the tangled traffic to others. And yet….depending on how the wind blows, I sometimes miss the freedom of the open road without obstruction. I envy my husband’s motorcycles patiently conspiring to race him off to anywhere on a balmy afternoon. I could conjur a version of the ‘feeling’ when I rode on horseback in Central Park in the early morning hours of Summer. Thinking back, it wasn’t always smooth going with digging my car out of the snow everyday or driving in blizzards when I lived in Calgary, Alberta or pulling off the highway during a sudden, zero visibility rain storm in Miami in hurricane season and literally praying that I didn’t get smashed into. I’ve always preferred to drive alone, I’m not a good passenger, and can’t help but believe that all of my solo driving experiences, either blissful or scary, have shaped me into who I am today and even enabled me to cope with the really tough times in my life. There’s a tremendous resilience and peace that comes from being not merely  a survivor but reinventing your life, creating your own reality. What we do becomes who we are, and vice versa, for better or worse. I can conjure up the ‘feeling’ on those particular days and I am reminded of wonderful moments, private memories of simple acts and accomplishments that, often taken for granted as meaningless by others, I wholly embrace and applaud. My relocation back to Vancouver next year will most likely see me behind the wheel once again, probably in an environmentally friendly number, retracing the miles of past journeys. The scenery may be different but the ‘feeling’ will definitely be the same, a love that lasts forever.

One Response to “Driving Ambition: A Love Story”

  1. Barbara June 26, 2013 at 7:28 pm #

    Hi Jude……. loved loved loved your story about cars, driving and the “feeling” one gets on the open road. I too adore road trips. A day, a weekend, a month. No matter. Just get me behind the wheel. Even now with GPS built into my iPhone, I still have a love affair with paper maps ! I have a lousy sense of direction, so taking that road less travelled just enhances the experience of discovery for me. There is always a picnic basket loaded with goodies on the back seat too. And never ever without a bag of good old fashioned Hawkins Cheezies. Thanks for writing this blog Jude – it brought back some good “feelings” reading it ! xox Barb

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