Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Paula and Me

I drive a little butter-colored VW Bug convertible named in honor of Paula Deen, the formerly agoraphobic Food Network star who overcame her fears to trot the globe, leaving a trail of Southern-fried charm in her wake.

Paula (the car, not the person) is pretty close to perfect, but I can't close her top by myself. Don't know whether it's because she's so new and stiff (as opposed to me, who's old and stiff) or because something's wrong, but it's impossible to get the top closed without someone else pulling down on it.

I leave the top down all the time unless it's raining. Driving through the countryside, especially at night, is one of the great joys of my life. Only trouble is, since I live alone I have to keep one eye on the weather forecast and plan ahead to make sure I get Paula's top closed before it rains.

Monday afternoon I blew it. I was so preoccupied with the novel that I didn't pay any attention. Tuesday morning I ended up driving over to Mom and Dad's in the rain with the top down. This isn't as disastrous as it sounds. Due to some strange law of physics, you don't get wet as long as you're going at least 25 miles an hour, assuming the rain's just rain and not a downpour. Stoplights are a pain, though.

You should have seen the looks I got, tooling along in a steady rain with the top down and my little doggie watching out the windows. Can't you just hear the stories those people told later. "You should have seen the nutcase I passed this morning. . . ."

Anyway, I actually had a point when I started this ramble. You see, I almost missed the opportunity for all this fun. For 25 years, I drove Mom cars--mini-vans and SUVs. For several years I'd been looking forward to driving something smaller, but with the expenses of moving and getting my daughter into college, it wasn't in the cards.

Gasoline got ridiculously expensive and seeing the numbers rise as I filled up the tank on my SUV practically set off panic attacks. Then my brother traded his SUV for a VW Bug convertible. I was sold the moment he let me slip behind the wheel. I've never been a car person: As long as it's safe, reliable, and available 24/7, I'm good. But I LOVED that Bug convertible. When I lamented over not being able to buy one, my brother suggested I do the math. The difference in gas for the Bug vs. the SUV would pay for the thing, he said. Turned out he was right. Three days later I brought Paula home.

Finally, finally, we've come to the heart of the matter. For a very long time, I wanted something I didn't think was possible. My mind was simply closed to the idea and so I didn't properly assess or evaluate it. I believed I couldn't buy a different car and so I couldn't. It was only when I opened my mind that I could figure out it was not only possible, but a good idea.

Now I drive around town in the rain, entertaining the neighborhood and myself. I smile every single time I get into the car and strangers smile and wave at me all the time. People comment on Paula everywhere I go. And all this costs me less each month than driving a nondescript, gas guzzling behemoth I didn't enjoy in any way.

Good things show up when you believe in them, when you make yourself available to them. A closed mind or a closed heart presents a barrier that nothing can penetrate, not even something as small (in the grand scheme of things) as a darling little Bug convertible. Or, in Paula's case (the person, not the car) as big as a restaurant, several national tv shows, and a magazine with her name and face on it.

It's a lesson I have to be taught over and over, but I know this to be true: Opening your heart and mind changes everything.


~NanCourt~ said...

Oh, it seems to suit you and I love the image of you sitting, smiling in the rain. Sounds like something that would happen to me...a blonde moment.
I recently got a new car too. I drove the wheels off my little Mazda, aka "The Divorce Car". Hated it for a long time since it represented settling for less than I had....just like my marriage. But, then I grew fond of it and was sad it died. However, I LOVE my new Hyundai Sonanta! It is champagne-pearl elegant and SWEET! I did not think I could get a new car either as Baby Girl got the new Explorer Sport when she was ready for college. I, too, invested more in her car than mine. But, she had been in two wrecks by 12th grade so I felt she needed the safety of an SUV in that Atlanta traffic. She can buy her next one....I am done.
(I have to give credit where credit is due though....Feller bought it for me.
I am blessed.)

Tammy said...

Her life story is amazing and I'm happy you got your bug :) Yeah anti-gas hogs!

Amber said...

Fan-freakin'tasic! I can't wait to get a non-mom car. (even thought I am thankful for mini). I want a bug like that or a Mini cooper. What color is Paula?

And I just love your thoughts here. I NEED to REMEMBER that truth!! We all do.


Suzy said...

Great story- laughed my ass off with the visual of you driving around in the (driving) rain, top down with Lassie by your side.
Your possibilities are endless, as as is your talent with writing.
Keep going forward.....we're all behind you.

Jerri said...

Amber--Paula is harvest moon beige with a tan roof. LOVE her, LOVE her. She looks like butter and cream.

Remiman said...

What? no pictures?
Oh well , your story painted a vivid enough picture.
I have to go to bed, but have to wait 'til I stop chuckling. ;-)

~NanCourt~ said...

Hey Jerri...
Have you gotten your camera toy yet?

We all would love to see Paula pics.

Naming your car is cute....I am not sure what I would call mine. Maybe inspiration will come eventually.....for now I just call it "wunnerful"!

Mystic Wing said...

I know friends of yours who say things like "...hasn't got enough sense to get out of the rain..."

None of us knew, though, how accurate a statement that was.

Seriously, though, great story.

A digital photo of the Reflections author complete with sun hat and flowers in the vase would indeed be a good idea.

ceanandjen said...

You go in that fabulous convertible! This is one of those things to which I say, "you only live once." Things always happen as they are supposed; you were meant to have this car and feel this joy and freedom. Lovely!!!!!!

tinker said...

I liked this post,(and the image of you riding in the rain with the top down - yet not getting wet, as long as you kept moving). Seems like there's a metaphor in that part of the story, too.

Our view all depends on which way we look at the big picture, doesn't it? Thanks for this.

Amber said...

That sounds very pretty! I want a spring green one. I love that color.