I can imagine that oncoming traffic either laughed or thought I was insane when I suddenly threw both my hands up into the air above the windshield header. It was still a little hot, but I needed a top down day. I've owned convertibles nearly continuously from the age of 17. The love affair started with a bright blue MGB, moved to a Triumph TR-6 followed by a string of Mazda Miatas. The Miata that never left is a bright blue race package '94 model with factory white racing stripes and roll bar. I call her Shelbie. Like me, she is aging and not always gracefully. Our bodies getting used up, breaking down, turning against us. Earlier this year I sent her to a Miata specialty shop in Dallas for a heart transplant…an attempt to prolong our days together. Her engine was rebuilt and it gave her new life securing our relationship for at least a little longer. I wasn't about to give up on her.
Early in our time together we were driving down the Expressway when a car pulled up alongside. I heard a beautiful male British voice say, "Excuse me." I turned to look. A handsome young man about my own age very politely inquired (and perhaps everything just sounds more polite in a British accent), "Would you mind showing us your tits. It doesn't matter that they are small." I sped off. Not quick-witted enough to formulate a reply. We were redeemed a few year later. I was loading groceries when I saw a man hang himself out the passenger window (up to his waist), of a passing car, spread his arms wide and call out to me, "Will you marry me?" I laughed out loud. Shelbie always turned heads.
Nineteen years have passed and neither one of us gets quite the attention we used to. I don't like to think that I am vain. I've never worn make-up, keep my hair quite long, but simple, dress nice, but not trendy, but to be honest, I guess I am to a degree. I've been dealt another blow. Breast cancer. Now I'm facing another surgery; a full mastectomy of the right side followed by radiation while still dealing with my immune deficiency and autoimmune conditions. The thought of losing something that is in no way critical to the functionality of my body is tougher to swallow than I thought. Even if they are small, I've gotten quite used to the way they look on my body. After a few days of sulking, "why me's" and "dammit, don't I get to be happy EVER in this life," I turned to my husband and said I had made a decision. "I refuse to have breast cancer." He responded with, "Good. I agree. Let's go with that." Then I burst out laughing. That wasn't quite the response I expected, but apparently was the one I needed. It was the beginning of acceptance.
I was driving home from work. Radio playing "Roam" by the B-52s. Top down. I realized I wasn't thinking about the cancer. I felt at peace. Felt happy. I was still here and determined to remain no matter how many times my body tries to kill me. I'm not giving up on me. This very moment is mine. My hands flew into the air.