Now What's Yo Name, Girl?, Never Mind, Never Mind, Do Yo Thang, Girl, Fire, You Ain't Never Lied, Oh
two five zero
a wave crashes long
while a girl stands, hoping it
never reaches her.
When I was a little girl I caught sight of my first motor scooter traipsing along some bygone highway, I too felt I was destined for the open road, riding beneath an open sky. Whether it was Audrey in Roman Holiday or even Mandy in First Daughter, the mystique around the act of striking off on one's own on one's own vehicle has been a focus of mine. From an early age I knew that I wanted to be one of the many unfortunate souls afflicted with the malady of wanderlust and I wanted my symptom of choice to be that of a Vespa. I knew that like I knew my own name. I knew that before I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, before I knew what kind of boys I liked, before I had even picked up my first nickname. I knew it like a mother knows her own child; I was destined to own one of those magnificent beasts before I dared considered owning anything else huge in my life.
It was a hunger within me, an aching that even Tantalus himself could not even imagined. It was an all-consuming passion. I wasn't content to linger on the sidelines of my own reality. That particular object of desire had to be possessed by me as soon as the law and the winds of fate would allow. It was my destiny. It was my desire. It was my dream.
I started planning years before how I would accomplish this mission. I started seeing in my head when I would have to start scavenging for the perfect chariot to captain, when I would have to start my apprenticeship into the arcane arts of harnessing such a magnanimous force, when I would have to to start raising the funds. No detail was too miniscule for me to finesse over, no plan too out-of-bounds to color in. I would have my key or I would have nothing at all. It wasn't like I was asking for the entire world; I only wanted my tiny share of it. I wanted happiness encased by metal and gas and the wind at my back. And I would have it sooner rather than later, I can tell you that much.
The quest to convince my parents wasn't easy. They couldn't see why I needed to be driving such a dangerous vehicle in the first place. There were questions about why I didn't want to drive around in a car like my sisters had done before me. It was like trying to explain why you needed to climb mountains when you could ride up there or why you needed to swim out into the ocean when it was so much safer on shore. Gosh. It was like trying to explain why you needed to perform miracles when everybody wanted you to not draw attention to yourself. They just couldn't see why I wanted to be so different in this regard when, by and large, I am their most well-behaved child, their model of normalcy. When I tacked on that I wanted to bear the brunt of the responsibility for financing my beast of burden and insure it alone, they thought I had plumb stepped off the deep end. Again, they couldn't see why I didn't want their help for the most part.
I told them that anything worth me doing is worth me doing alone. I didn't want such an important dream of mine to be claimed in name only. I wanted to know stepping out into the driveway, stepping out into the garage, that when I looked at my playful, little companion that it was all mine, in spirit and in body. I wanted there to be no doubt who I belonged to. I wanted it all to myself.
And when I finally did claim her, my Ilsa, you couldn't have found a happier child on this planet. The years of negotiating with my family--my sisters having to plead my case on my behalf at one point; the years of waiting for that day to come; the years of feeling as if I had a huge hole inside of me that could never be filled, had finally come to fruition. I felt like I was myself for the very first time. I thought to myself that I was finally alive for the very first time.
Weeks later, though, all I can think of is "now what?" Where does Toby venture out now to?
There's a dark side to fulfilling one's destiny. It's called the nightmare of satisfaction. I'm discovering once one of your dreams have ended, for better or for worse, there's no going back. I'm discovering that there's one thing more important than reaching your goals and that's having a direction to go to. It's all well and good to say to myself that I did something monumental, something most people my age never do and plan out every step of buying my own vehicle, but you can only feel that pride for the first time once. You can only have the revelry of starting her up for the very first time once. You can only drive all night (or most of it, at least) for the first time once. There's a whole encyclopedia's worth of accomplishments you can only do the first time once, and a whole lot of years of having to do the same old, same old. Like the poet said, "you may be born alive / but you live most of your days / dying some, little by little" The stone can only roll down from here.
And it's not like I wouldn't give up what I have for anything. I love my life A.I. (After Ilsa) than B.I., but there's a sense of ennui with my days now that I can't quite put into words. There's the sense that I pinned all my hopes on something that was easily undertaken, that I didn't challenge myself to something more substantial. Overall, there's the sense that I settled on something good, when greatness was still out there.
I stopped once the water reached my chest, which is far, but it's not actually swimming beneath the sea.
It's made me rethink my whole "little joys in little boxes" philosophy. It's made me question a lot of the tenets I had held onto, actually. I've lived a lot of my life with the simple phrase "don't postpone joy" as my personal motto. I did a lot of things that I knew I could do given my intelligence, my personality, and my personal tastes because I thought life was better for me that way. I had a series of small steps that made me feel like a queen as often as not. The trouble with being queen of one's bedroom everyday instead of going out and trying to be the queen of everything is that even though it makes you happy all the time, eventually you come to realize your domain isn't that large and your subjects consist of only you. Eventually you realize having the biggest cookie in the cookie jar doesn't mean much once you've eaten it, eventually you realize you can only drive the same road so many times before it stops feeling new.
It's lead me to a newish philosophy. I still believe in not postponing joy, but now I want to add an addendum to that. It's important not only to not postpone joy, but to also not hold onto it too tightly. You can only go to the well so many times. It doesn't mean you abandon it, but it also means that sometime you're going to have a dig a new well as well. I'm also starting to have faith in the idea that you can't not (double negative, Gosh, I must be tired) go after the big presents and the big joys as well. Yes, I can go my whole life buzzing around fifty miles from my home and from what I knew, but I'm starting to get excited about the prospect of venturing forth with my Ilsa and visiting another state, crossing the Mississippi, or even hitting some place really far like Florida or California.
There's more to life than looking at waves. There's also the feeling of actually sailing atop them somewhere mysterious someday.
It's also what makes me nervous for my oldest sister. Nora getting hitched is fairly huge, without a doubt the hugest event that's ever happened to any of us three.
I hope in her mind that he's the road she gets to travel upon and not the destination itself.