30 August 2009

Take This Tune - Life Is A Highway

This week's Take This Tune song is "Life Is A Highway" by Rascal Flatts. Confession time. My right foot is made of lead. California girl from the golden age. I learned to drive at 12 on my uncle's raisin ranch, sneaky drove every summer on public roads when necessary for the next three years, and got my first driver's license at 15. You could do that then if you had passed Driver's Ed and Training and I was a year ahead in age of everyone in my 10th grade class. Fifty years later I can say that I have never, ever had a moving violation or accident. Not that I didn't deserve the speeding tickets. The police were just never where I was doing it. Either that or I was doing it so well, they let me slide. Take your pick.

In college in 1961, me and my 52 DeSoto were whizzing down freeways that are now parking lots most of the day. Remark to girlfriend riding along: "Gee everyone is moving slow today". Girlfriend's response: "Have you looked at the speedometer lately?"... Doing 90 on the 10 from West Covina to San Dimas. Try that today, you poor overcrowded souls! Now when you add this need for the open road to an early gypsy upbringing then you have someone who considers sliding behind the wheel an act of love ... a deeply ingrained passion ... a desire to see the other side of the mountain. We are talking lust here folks.

It sometimes seems as if through the years, every problem in my life has been at least partially solved by getting behind a wheel ... not to run away, but to clear the fog, unload any sadness and to let the wind and the road help me make decisions. As the song says, "Through all these cities and all these towns, It's in my blood and it's all around."

Just a few years ago, some friends were stunned, though the children knew better, when I threw a bag in the car at the age of 61 and just drove the 600 miles from California to Washington. Somehow those people seemed to think that it wasn't something a grandmother did alone. To me it was just another leg in the great American road trip. Right now I'm planning a practical way to do something on the bucket list: Drive the country coast to coast while I still can without worrying about my judgement or reaction time. My concession to age so far means driving the speed limit. My aunt got skittish about driving on freeways when she reached her 80s (Yes another California raised girl who drove easily and well until her death at 90 except for the concession to surface roads only). I guess the dream trip has to be done some time in the next 25 years.

The movie Cars brought back the early trips with family in Arizona and New Mexico when Route 66 was still a thoroughfare everyone used. My dad had sent me pictures of his trip across country from East to West on the great highway and then as a child we drove from California through Arizona and New Mexico. To this day I remember the Motel with the Tepees and getting caught by a huge thunderstorm out in the middle of nowhere while seeking refuge in a farmhouse that still used kerosene lamps because they didn't have electricity. Now that was driving. To this day a favorite book is Blue Highways. If you aren't in a hurry, go see America.

As a young married, I opened the door one day to see some College friends from about 500 miles away. "We went out for a Sunday drive and forgot to stop." That is the way my generation drives. Now I feel guilty about the oil. My son owns a Prius. My own car is a Cavalier with high MPG and when the lottery comes in I promise to buy a Volt or something similar ... electricity will be my friend. In the meantime you should know that my Girls school in the third grade was on Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena so of course this Little Old Lady has her foot on the pedal, the CD player or FM radio volume is turned up, the hands are at two and ten, the open road beckons with its allure of freedom ... And I will always love the Beatles because they have promised, Baby You Can Drive My Car.


carol g said...

This is so neat... not only did you not get caught... I haven't either. I think I need to slow down a bit now.

barb said...

I feel like I need to stop to use the Rest Area! hahaha!

I do like taking a drive and discovering new places, but I do not like driving fast, traffic or bridges. Yeah, that seems to be a problem for everyone!

Last November I flew up to Massachusetts with a friend to pick up a car he'd bought on eBay. The drive back was great until we got to Virginia, when he got itchy to get home. It was there we left the country roads and got on the highway. I hated the rest of the trip and had one of my worst Panic Attacks ever in Washington DC - it was cold, rainy and dark on a Friday night at 5:00. Oh boy, did that ever suck!

SouthLakesMom said...

What a great memory, Jamie! We were military kids so every time we changed station we'd do a cross-country in the station wagon. I'm sure my dad always went the speed limit. He still drives El Paso to Colorado to Massachusetts to Virginia to El Paso every summer in a little Hyundai -- and he's 77. SO GO FOR IT!

carol g said...

I forgot to say, again, how much I love to read your life stories :o). Thanks for sharing them with us.