Time Can Take Its Toll On The Best Of Us, Look At You, You're Growing Old So Young
I was kidnapped real young by the sweet taste of adventure. Ask anyone, I was a real hellfire when I was younger. I don't know exactly what the allure was. Adventure just became me. In my head I always thought that I was a good girl--listening to my parents (despite my better inclinations), well-mannered and graceful, and never really prone to the whims of fancy that my friends seemed fond of. Yet despite this self-image I possessed, the perception had always been that I was a troublemaker, wicked beyond redemption.
To misquote the poetess, you say I choose trouble, that it has never once chosen me. I don't think that's entirely honest. Hell's bells, Lord knows I've always had the right intentions in every bit of trouble I've ever raised.
Ever since I was young, my daddy has kept this beat-up, raggedy old white pickup that seemingly is running on apparent sheer will and wishful thinking. I don't know why he keeps it around. I suspect it's for sentimental reasons. What's important is that from the day I was born it has always been a point of comedy at the accomadations we must make for it. Like most houses, my parent's garage only housed two cars, my mother's volvo and my father's king-size truck. Aside from that, they've owned a mini-van and different varieties of luxury sedan at various points of my life. Three cars. Then there was that white Ford pick-up. No matter how well we planned it, it always ended up being in the driveway when my daddy or my mother needed to get one of the other vehicles. They used to call it musical cars, as in "here we go again, time to play musical cars again..." They would laugh, but I could always detect the exasperation in their voices. Yet, despite my mother's protests, my daddy has never been able to part with his truck, his baby.
There came a day when I was eight and my mother was late with dinner that that truck would get me into probably the deepest trouble I've ever been in aside from the scandal of my parents finding out I had lost my virginity to someone five years older than me. Again, my only excuse is that I had the best of intentions. I never planned to wreak havoc like I did. "Hurricaines don't choose to cause destruction, they can only follow the path laid before them," as my daddy used to say when I'd be sent home from school or one of the other parents would place a concerned call about me. Bear that in mind as I continue.
I was at the dinner table, worried that my mother seemed even more agitated than she usually was. I wasn't particularly hungry as I was never a huge eater when it came to home meals. A big appetite was usually reserved for the one or two times a week when my parents decided a restaurant meal was the best course of action. My mother had drilled it into my head that a proper lady doesn't eat more than her company, even if that company was family. By that reckoning on that day like so many days before that, I fooled myself into believing that I couldn't eat until my parents ate. You would have never heard word one about my being hungry in that household. Ever. That was a big no-no.
Still, my mother could see by my slightly downcast face and the barely audible rumblings of my eight-year-old stomach, that all was not right in the city of Macon. She had wanted to fix us this nice steak dinner, but my father had been inexplicably forced to stay late at his work and wouldn't have enough time to pick up the cuts in a timely fashion. If we wanted the dinner my mother had planned for us it would have been at least another two hours.
It was then that my mother made the decision that rather than try to whip something up quickly for my father and I, she would take us all down to the fancy steak place that my father liked. She told me to ready myself in a decent dress and to pick out a nice bow she could tie. Yes, there's a reason why in a lot of my poetry I speak out against the archaic practice of tying bows in your daughter's hair. It's positively barbaric in my opinion--cuteness be damned.
I rushed up to my room, changed, prettied myself, and was back downstairs in the kitchen with plenty of time to spare before my father was expected home. On occasions like this my parents usually brought out the volvo because it felt more momentous and dignified rather than rolling up in my daddy's ten-gallon hat of a pickup. The only trouble was, of course, that the volvo was in the garage and the white pickup was blocking it in. It would mean that my mom would have to move it before we could go.
Well, I already knew she was as agitated as a one-legged ice skater in a crowded pond. I wanted the night to go well. I wanted to have a nice dinner with my parents and not have the conversation revolve around just how many things had gone wrong that day.
I decided to move the pick-up myself to save my mother the trouble.
Before you start in on me, I can only defend myself with this. By that point in time my daddy had begun showing me the fundamentals of driving. He would, like a lot of fathers did in the slow country roads of the countryside, allow me to sit up on his knees, place my hands on the wheel and let me steer for a spell when we weren't in any great hurry to be anywhere. Sometimes, when he was feeling extra jolly, he would even let me push down on the pedals when he was sure I couldn't actually run us off the road. I learned the difference between the "R" and the "D", I learned just how much wheel to give different turns, Hell's bells, he even let me start the damned thing whenever I asked. It was fun and nothing ever had gone wrong. In short, I had received just enough information to kill myself with.
I gathered up my mother's keys out of her purse and set out to the driveway with the full intention of scooching it back a few feet to allow my mother space to get out. I unlocked the driver's side door, climbed up, and started it up. I had to stand to reach the pedals which was my first mistake. There's no feathering the gas pedal when you're in a full upright position. You're either standing on the pedal or you ain't. The next mistake I made was attempting to reverse out of the driveway. Even with all those impromptu driving lessons I had with my daddy, the need to explain the hows and whys you reverse a vehicle had never arisen. Go figure. I hadn't learned what the rearview mirror did. Hell, I was even lucky to have been able to see the mirror at all, let alone see what was behind me. I knew three things. One, I knew how to get it started, which I did. Two, I knew how to put it into reverse, which I did. Three, I knew how to pull the parking brake while pressing on the gas.
The truck took off like a greyhound at the track. In reverse. Down the driveway, across our tiny two-lane residential street, and to the other side of it. Luckily, my progress was stopped before I could cause damage to our neighbor's house.
Unfortunately, my progress was stopped by a massive telephone pole.
It threw me away from the steering wheel and against the passenger side of the cab. I was lucky it hadn't thrown me through the windshield or any other of the windows. As it was, I was sufficiently dazed to not realize exactly what had happened. All of this had taken place in less than ten seconds, if that.
When my mother found me two minutes later, I was crying inside the still-idling truck. The pole prevented it from moving, but it didn't prevent it from causing sufficient noise and fervor to make all of our neighbors to take notice. Not only that, but my little stunt had also proceeded to tilt the telephone pole a small distance. No, it wasn't in any danger of falling or I wouldn't be sitting here writing this to you, but it did add to the list of transgressions I was guilty of. Singlehandedly, I had knocked out service to our area for the next four or five hours before they could get a guy out to fix it.
After my mother ran to me and made sure I was okay, I proceeded to get a tongue lashing that I'm still not sure to this day has ever ended. I know my mother never allows me to live it down. It's also a hoot-and-a-half with both Greg and Patrick.
I told you that story to tell you this story. I got a disturbing letter from my high school alumni association the other day inquiring whether I would like to be part of my ten-year reunion planning committee for next year. Couple that with the inevitable fact of my birthday this past Monday, and it made me realize it's been almost twenty years since I last tried to commit suicide by vehicular idiocy.
Like it or not, I'm getting old.
I noticed a long time ago that I no longer get into scrapes like I once did. Sure, I indulge my follies every once in a while. Those chances to break loose and kick caution to the curb, don't come as often as I would like. I'm no longer 'ole Breanne, good for a laugh whenever she was acting impulsively. I'm just old Breanne now--no more, no less. I don't have the chances to really wreck myself or my reputation. While I wouldn't say I'm stuck in a rut, I know there aren't very many firsts out there for me.
That makes me sad in a way.
A lot of my personality is predicated on the fact that I was so-called unpredictable. A lot of what makes me me is the idea that I don't always do what's expected of me (or normal people). Every once in a while I'll do something because it seems like a solid idea to me and no once. Without the bit of spice, what am I? I'm just like everyone else and that is an idea that can't stand.
I can't be the person who sits at home and waits for life to come to her. I need to be the person who runs right alongside with life daring it to keep up with me. I can't be the person who jogs for recreation and not for exploration. I need to be the person who runs faster, harder, and longer than anyone else because it's what I was born to do. I can't be the person who sits idling in the driveway.
Chicago is a place I haven't tackled yet. Hopefully, by the time I'm done with it, you won't even recognize it. I need this trip to remember what kind of person I was and still want to be.
I need to be the person that knocks over a few telephone poles now and again.