Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Am the Girl in the Car

I have been a Madonna-fan from the very beginning. I identified with her music video for "Borderline," thirty years ago, especially when she was riding in the photographer's car. I was seventeen-years-old and I did not have my driver's license yet. I was dependent on my parents and friends for rides to school, church bible studies, theater rehearsals, etc.

The young adult novel that I am struggling to finish features a teenager who yearns for a Vespa scooter. Friends in my writers' group observed that the protagonist is always being driven places, given rides by others, instead of driving himself. I don't think that I was fully aware of that recurring theme until it was pointed out to me. But it's consistent with the character's desire for independence and freedom, and how the sought-after scooter represents both to him.

A used Vespa scooter became my "first car" in the 80's, once I had moved out of my parents' house. I couldn't afford a car. But the sleek, white Italian scooter was all I needed to get around town. I loved my little putt-putt. And it helped to give me the funky, avant-garde image I wanted for myself (at least I hoped it did).

I have had three more scooters since then (and three different cars). I gradually achieved some semblance of increased independence as I got older.

But not completely.

It bothers me a little that I never achieved full independence, at least financially. I have always rented rooms, always had roommates. Delaying college graduation and a "real job" until my forties probably had something to do with it. The best I managed to take care of myself was when I went away on contract in Japan, or when I worked on cruise ships. Housing was provided for both of those jobs - no rent to pay! So, I guess that I still wasn't completely independent with either job.

Even with my "first real job," though (which ended a few months ago), I didn't see how people could afford to live on their own in Los Angeles. I would probably have had to take a second job at night if I were single. I don't know where I would be without Domestic Partner . . . probably still on a cruise ship or in Japan (if they were still willing to hire me, that is).

I am grateful that Domestic Partner and I still together. I'm grateful for my own car, my own transportation, grateful that I am in the driver's seat sometimes. But every weekend, when we go out, I sit in the passenger seat of Domestic Partner's BMW convertible.

Some days I am still that girl in the car.

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