Riding in a 1993 Mustang: A Tribute to Fathers

For better or worse, my dad is a ‘car guy”. He’s always had an intense love of those beautiful and dangerous machines on four wheels, with intense horsepower and gorgeously shaped fiberglass bodies. This love affair most likely came from his own father, who had been a truck driver his whole life and had also had a perpetual fascination with automobiles. My own father read car magazines religiously, and can identify differences in vehicles from the tiniest details- “That must be a ’67 Corvette because they changed the shape of the taillight slightly, making it more of an oval shape in ’68, and the ’66 Corvettes still have lights that stuck out a bit more like the previous years.” Every year we would go to multiple local car shows, and spend hours going to car after car and inspecting every inch to see how true to original it was or point out each tiny little imperfection.

When I was about eight, he purchased a 1993 Cobra Mustang. All black, with a CD player (a luxury at the time). It couldn’t be taken out in the rain, it was waxed meticulously whenever it was taken out of garage, and after months of owning it there was still a new car smell that permeated the vehicle- a pleasant mixture of leather and other scents. When we did take it out, we usually went to a diner named Annabelle’s, a retro place that was famous for its milkshakes. We would go there many Friday nights, as those nights many would gather to show off their cars, and just discuss cars at length. Though I was still too young to really care about cars, I still enjoyed going as a special treat. Going to Annabelle’s meant blasting Chuck Berry or Bob Segar from the stereo (my father’s two favorite CDs that he owned at the time), going extremely fast, and, of course, getting a thick milkshake that seemed endless. We would only go in the summer, so we would have the windows down to enjoy the fresh summer air, smelling of lingering sunshine and freshly cut grass.

One night, as we were coming home, we came to a stretch of road deemed “Freelane Way”- a long, straight stretch of somewhat secluded road that was my dad said was perfect for driving on at top speed.

“Alright, are you guys ready? Let’s see what this little Mustang has got! I’m going to pull a whole shot,” my dad said to my brother and I, excitement filling his voice. I had only a vague idea of what a “whole shot” was, being only eight and a half years old, but I could tell we’d be going fast.

It was already dark, despite it being summer, so the road was a strip lined with bright streetlights overhead which I imagined to be alien eyes spying on us. No other cars were around, and the night was perfectly quiet. My dad turned the music off, so we could just listen to the engine and exhaust. He had come to a stop, and then began to accelerate. Rapidly. My body was pressed hard against the leather seat that was yet to be broken in, and in a moment we were going the fastest I had even gone in my short life. I felt like I could hardly breath, and everything was a blur. I could feel each shift, going from gear to gear as quickly as possible, and I eventually closed my eye tightly, trying to block out the unnerving sensations.

The experience ended nearly as quickly as it had begun. We slowed down to a normal, safe speed and continued on our way home, though my dad had a large grin on his face. Despite the fact we were now driving along in a perfectly normal way, my heart continued to pound the rest of the way home.

Since it was well past our bedtime when we got home, something that was permitted on nights at Annabelle’s, we immediately got ready for bed once we arrived. I remained in a nervous state, unable to talk much and still shaking slightly. As my dad was putting me to bed, he could feel the tension and fear in me, and felt my body still trembling slightly from the ride.

“Oh, Scooter, I’m so so sorry! I didn’t know it would scare you like that! Are you alright? We don’t have to do that ever again, if it frightens you that much,” he said in a gentle voice, enveloping me in a warm, comforting hug. He held me close for a few moments, apologized again, and tucked me into my amiable sheets. After giving me a loud kiss on the forehead and placing his hand tranquility on the top of my head, he said good night and “I love you” one last time before leaving and closing my door for the night. My usual night light was still on, and by this time my heart had slowed and I drifted off easily into a dreamless sleep, unafraid and assured that I was entirely safe.

While he never pulled a whole shot in the Mustang while I was a passenger after that, I was never fearful of being harmed when going at high speed. Years later, he would force me to go on roller coasters that I was terrified of but ended up falling in love with. I am his youngest child, his only daughter, but he has never treated me as “weak” or fragile. He has supported me through every difficulty and every challenge I have encountered, and been there to share all of my joys as well. My father has always helped me see that I am stronger than I might think and times, and made sure that I have never let fear control my life. From an early age, he showed me that fear can only place restrictions on your enjoyment of life when you allow it, but he also has always been there for me in moments of need so that I have never felt alone. I’m not sure what more you could ask for from a father.13912691_10206944202191561_5221221979923566062_n

What the Election is Really About

I can’t truly begin to express how heavy my heart has been throughout this election.

Along with the rest of the country, I’ve watched divisions become more bitter, more violent. I’ve watched in disbelief as one candidate continuously spouts fear and hatred, and, most importantly, lies. I’ve seen one candidates’s bigotry, racism, sexism, and complete disregard for the value of a human being be accepted and cheered by half of the country. I could have never imagined it would come to this.

I see a country torn apart internally, I see a country struggling to remain proud and strong, I see a country desperate for real change.

This election isn’t about gun rights. Or immigration. Or taxes and health care.

This election is about basic human rights- treating everyone with respect and valuing them as an individual. You do not have to agree with someone’s beliefs always, but you have no right to devalue another individual. You have no right to tell someone what to do with their body, you have no right to tell someone they are not allowed to marry the person they love, you have no right to tell someone they have no right to live in our country because of where they were born. You have no right to allow the wealthy to be excluded from their responsibility to the country. You have no right to attack other nations unless it is in defense. Most importantly, you have no right to objectify women and make that seem alright to men all over the country, and even the world.

No politician is perfect. However, I refuse to live in an authoritarian state that doesn’t respect me as an individual. I refuse to live under a leader who simply sees woman as bodies to be used, and rejected when they aren’t “beautiful” enough. I refuse to accept that the progress we have made will reversed because of one individual who consistently lies, deceives, and promotes violence.

This election IS about keeping our country safe, but not from external enemies. It’s about keeping it safe from internal enemies who only desire to suppress the rights of certain groups of individuals. If we allow this to happen, we are throwing away both years of hard work and the founding principles of our nation.

If you think you have no choice and your vote doesn’t matter, think again. Please.

Beginning

I’ve kept promising myself I would begin this, and now I finally am. Perhaps I don’t have the most dynamic or captivating story to tell. But perhaps even just for my own reflection and sanity this may be a help to me.

The past year has been, well, challenging, to say the least. In some ways, I’m not sure who I became, or who I am now. I know so much changed for me, and that I somehow lost the person I know I should be. I know so much changed, and I lost sight of the things that make my life fulfilling. I’ve had to completely reevaluate where I am, where I want to be, and face challenges I either avoided or didn’t anticipate. Yet I realize that 1. I am become a better, strong person because of this and 2. That I am extremely lucky in many ways, and could hardly say that my life is miserable.

I’m not sure where to start.

It’s interesting how people always want to know how and when “the eating thing” started. I don’t have a good answer for that. It wasn’t a single moment or instant… It slowly grew and grew until it took over… I let it take over, I suppose you could say. Though I convinced myself I was still perfectly in control. I believed I was doing right by my body, not eating anything fattening and staying active with a rigid exercise routine. I refused to admit that it had become an obsession, and I refused to see that I had dropped beyond a healthy weight, to a weight that was neither attractive or even modestly healthy.

It took awhile for me to finally open my eyes enough to see it. And it took a lot of assistance from some wonderful people in my life.

I remember stepping on the scale and seeing the number 64. And how much it frightened me. And realizing that I had to change.

For me, it was never really about reaching a perfect weight, or even feeling like I as extremely overweight. I do believe I started out with good intentions- eating healthier and getting my body good exercise. Somewhere along the line though, I started to become inflexible and incapable of, well, having a normal perspective of food. Anything with fat had to be eliminated. The foods I found acceptable to eat became smaller and smaller. I couldn’t finish the foods I did allow myself to eat- I didn’t need or deserve the calories.

The control felt good. It was something I could do well. I was proud that I could survive on so little; it made me feel strong. I wasn’t weak and lazy, I had self control, I was not going to become like the thousands of obese Americans out there.

Skipping a morning or running or walking was unacceptable. Eating the entire bagel for breakfast was unnecessary- I didn’t need all of the calories. Going out to eat was extremely uncomfortable- everything had too much fat and caused me so much anxiety. I didn’t want to talk about it all I- I refused to acknowledge that my temper had become impossibly short, that I was treating everyone as an enemy and that I was changing as a person. That I wasn’t thinking as clearly and that I had become… someone else.

It took loosing just about every good thing in my life for me to truly see where I had brought myself.

First it was the job. Which is still hard for me to discuss. I made a mistake and I had to face  the consequences. Then it was the car accidents, then it was James. The car accidents were, well, accidents. It’s easy to attribute them to the eating disorder specifically but it’s easy to make that association. And James, well… That is something else all together, a separate entry all it’s own.

What matters now, though, is that I am moving forward. Every day gets a little easier, at least in many ways. I feel like I have a fresh start, and that I have to take this opportunity to set things right, so to speak. I have started learning to enjoy life again, to not let myself be consumed with anxiety and feelings of unworthiness. Life has to keep going and right now I can just keep making positive steps forward.

I will end here for now, but I hope to continue more soon. I’m sorry if this is a little sporadic or disjointed. And any/all feedback is certainly welcome and appreciated.

Right now, I’m glad to be in Florida, spending some time with my dad and enjoying the beautiful beach and sunshine.

More  soon.