Occasionally, I just walk out of the house and leave the family to fend for themselves. I grab my purse, my phone, and my keys, yell something like, "Good luck, suckers!" over my shoulder, and hit the road.
I am a road person.
The other night, I did just that. It had not been a particularly difficult day, but it had been a long couple of weeks. Maguire came home from work and my heart unexpectedly slipped out the door behind him as he entered. I had no choice but to follow.
I haven't mentioned this, but I have a new car. A "new to me" car. Guess what it is? You'll never guess. Moosh? You might know.
It's a white Volvo V70 wagon. My dream car.
Of course, it is not new. I bought it for very close to an even trade for the land yacht that was my Dad's old emerald green Lincoln Towncar. I suspect there is a hamster in the engine running around frantically taping everything together, laughing in a bewildered way about how I could be so blinded by the boxy loveliness so as to not notice that I was being taken... but it is mine. I finally have my own car again.
And I work it hard. In particular, I work the CD player. Haven't had one of those in years.
The soundtrack for my solo
escape road trip along the Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches
the other evening was Ani DiFranco's Canon, a 2-disc compilation of some of her best songs. My husband introduced me to Ani DiFranco in college and I was sold immediately and ever since. One of the only performers I never tire of, and I get tired of music shamefully fast.
Fueled on by Ani's voice berating government, penises, and Righteous Babes who have their panties on a little too tight, I made my way along the scenic beach highway. One thing I love about the Mississippi Gulf Coast is that from Gulfport to Bay St. Louis, there are almost no structures built on the beach-side of the highway. Drivers are afforded unobstructed views of the water for miles.
This makes for a fine brainstorming environment. I busy part of my mind with driving, just enough to keep the random, distracting noise at bay, and leave the rest of my mind to solve solve solve.
On this particular evening, I was unaware of any unresolved issues for which I was setting out to solve. However, an hour into the drive, just as I was making it across the Bay St. Louis bridge from Pass Christian, the tears began to fall.
They were those hot tears, those silent tears, the ones that just drop drop drop.
The ones that surprise you. The ones that have been waiting, silently, patiently, and of which you were too busy to be aware. Until they find the break.
I would love to be able to tell you why I was crying. I do not know. It was our internal release valve, I think. No one thing in particular, it was just time to relieve some pressure.
So I drove. And I cried. And I listened to Ani DiFranco.
I thought about how I never listen to music anymore. Since living in New Orleans, I have become an avid talk radio listener. It started with the New Orleans station WRBH, Radio for the Blind and Print Handicap. They would read books on air, as well as magazine articles, but my favorite was the show on which they read the drugstore ads. Literally. It was hilarious.
The best show was on a day when a little old lady was reading the Rite Aid ads and said, "Let's see, you can get 300 count Vitamin C for... let me see... oh, shoot, I can't read that small print. Just go in and tell them you want the Vitamin C deal." The irony was so sweet, I can't even tell you. I just wanted to kiss her.
Nevertheless, it hooked me on talk radio. Now I listen to shows like Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. They are on when I am in the car during the day, so they are my guys. I don't always agree with their politics, but I am never disappointed in the discussion. I welcome the questions they force me to consider.
Ani DiFranco is a master at that. She does not disguise her politics and pleads for you to open your eyes. She makes me face social problems I might otherwise not consider. She invites me to question my beliefs.
Ani DiFranco might be one of the most liberal voices in the greater media today.
They share my ear equally.
They propel my voice equally.
And their opinions could not be more disparate.
“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposing ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.”
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I see the discussions in my comments sections regarding politics. You ask each other, "Is it possible to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative?" "Are not conservativism and liberalism mutually exclusive?" "How can you straddle this fence?"
These questions can easily apply well beyond the political boundaries.
When I posted the photo of my shoes in Summer Shoe Choices: I Am a Punk Rock Florida Retiree, I wasn't really asking you what shoes I should wear to San Francisco. I was sharing with you the dichotomy that is me. That is all of us.
We are so much more than labels. We are so much more than conservatives and liberals, Rebublicans and Democrats, mothers and wives, bloggers and writers, consumers and marketers.
So I listen to Glenn Beck with ears wide open. And I savor the moments when I listen to Ani DiFranco, as I feel her words physically enter my heart.
"I use my dress to wipe up my drink. I care less and less what people think."
Ani DiFranco, Dilate
I drove along the beach as evening turned to night, and I watched the wind blow thin streams of sand across the road. My headlights illuminated the sand as though it was fog. I was driving through time itself.
I drove along the waterline of Bay St. Louis, Mississippi, and I experienced all that is splendor and desolation. Two years after Hurricane Katrina and one lot will be filled to the property lines with a magnificent reproduction of a Southern plantation home while the next lot will hold a FEMA trailer with a spray-painted plywood sign near the road that reads, "AllState and State Farm: The Axis of Evil."
This is not my political statement. This is not about that.
This is about the complex labyrinth that is us.
And sometimes it makes me feel as though I am split down the middle.
Sometimes it makes me cry.
Sometimes it makes me rejoice.
Today it makes me reach out. For no reason other than because I can.