I’ve done something totally frivolous, off-the-wall, selfish, and some might even say impractical and foolish given the fact that I’m starting chemo next week. I bought a car. But, not just any car – I bought Ruby.
What possessed me to do such a totally outlandish and impractical thing you might ask? It’s easy. The thought of acquiring Ruby took root in a thousand dollar bill down the gas tank this last month alone as a result of our travels to and from various doctors. With treatment being a 100-mile round trip, it was clear that my beloved gig-mobile, a 4-x-4 Expedition that’s been a faithful companion and hauled me and my music equipment to and from many gigs over the years, wasn’t going to work. I love the gig-mobile but after crunching the numbers, it was apparent that even with making a small car payment, we’d come out ahead in the long run with a car that got better gas mileage. So, the hunt was on for a chemo car – a practical device designed to get good gas mileage and carry me to and from the months of chemo, surgery and radiation that lie ahead.
I’m thinking practical – smart car, Fusion, Volkswagen – cars that get great gas mileage but do little to feed my imagination or soul while driving. Exhausted from a steady round of blood draws, MRI, CT, blood work, PET scans, port installation, blood work, EKGs, more biopsies (did I mention blood work?), I finally told my husband to simply choose something – anything – and I’d drive it. My only requirement was at least 25 mpg. I’ve made too many decisions the last few weeks and was emotionally drained – no mas – no more. Even the simple decision to choose a chemo car was too much for me. And, choose he did.
You see, he understood something essential – something basic – that I missed (or ignored) in my quest to do the “practical” thing. Sometimes, the practical thing isn’t the needful thing. Sometimes, most needed thing of all, especially when the world has been turned upside down, is to feed your soul with beauty, and music, and light. Sometimes, for your body to heal, your mind and heart and soul must be healed too. Sometimes, you must feed your soul. This was one of those times.
I suppose I inherited a love of cars from my father and Ruby was beauty on wheels. I fell in love at first acceleration. A 2005 Mercedes convertible CLK 500, Ruby has a body reminiscent of red wine in candlelight that inspires life, vitality and fires the imagination. A black rag top is the perfect complement accenting and drawing attention to her inner glow. (Isn’t it funny how the dark negative slices of color in our lives always makes life more beautiful and rich?) Ruby is pure pleasure and decadence to drive.
I’ve always loved to drive in the evenings at the time of day my grandmother called the gloaming – the time when it’s not yet night but neither is it day. Driving Ruby home, I realized how much I love the feel of the wind in my hair in an open top car. That’s when it hit me – in two weeks I’ll be bald. This is one of the last times I will experience the feeling of my hair streaming behind me in the wind for a very, very long time. How strange that cancer should rob me of such a simple pleasure. What an unexpected loss. But, I don’t cry. Instead, I vow to drive every night and relish this feeling as long as it lasts until the wind finally takes my hair back home to the universe. Then, I’ll tie my wig on with a scarf and drive every night in defiance of cancer and for the joy of the wind in my face. Cotton and I drive that night until darkness overtakes us.
Sitting in line for a burger, my love looks and me and says, “Well, you’ve got your Ruby Slippers.” And, so I do – Ruby Slippers to take me to and from chemo. Ruby feeds my soul. Me and Ruby. With or without hair, we’re going to be more than fine.
We eat ice cream before the hamburgers. I like having dessert first. I’m going to do it more often. I’ll buy the smart car in 40 years when I’m 94. For now, I have Ruby Slippers to bring me home.
© Mary Kyle. 2013. All rights reserved.