Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The Open Road (or, on confidence, dreams, and piercings)

I vividly remember what first made me feel free -- owning a car.

My first car was a Honda CVCC that started smoking like a dragon almost the minute we got it home.  I paid $900 for it, but then, I was in high school, it was 1985, and you know what they say -- you get what you paid for.  The car leaked when it rained (drilled a hole in the floor of the car and parked on a decline to fix that), only had four gears (I learned to drive a stick shift on the way home from buying the car), and on top of that, it was orange.  I remember driving with my stepfather to buy that car and telling him I didn't care what color it was as long as it wasn't orange.



I immediately splurged on vanity plates ("Rabbit1" -- long story, but apparently my nose twitches when I laugh) but I couldn't afford a stereo.  The car CAME with a "stereo", but it had a bad habit of falling the heck OUT of the dashboard.  Hit the brakes too hard, tape deck flew into the back seat.  I even pulled the choke one morning (do you even know what a choke IS in a car any more?) and the entire thing came out of the dash, wires and all.  I wasn't a strong girl.  It was just a crap car.

But you know why I loved it?  Freedom.

I never really had any place to go other than work and school and home.  But many nights, I'd get in the car and just DRIVE.  I started investing in batteries and carried an old-school boom box in the passenger seat and I'd take off.

The Bay Bridge.  Don't worry, we were stopped when I shot this photo.

I still jump in and take off, although I now have a stereo that doesn't fall into my lap.  I have a love affair with music (it evokes memories, and I like to write music videos in my mind), but for some reason, I rarely play it in the house.  I think I like playing it LOUD, being enveloped in the sound, the rush of air from the sun roof, the idea of MOVING.  Anywhere, just not here, if you know what I mean.  I also love to sing, really belt out the words that speak to me, but I can't carry a tune with two hands and bucket.

I LOVE my current car -- a 2010 VW Bug.  Love, love, puffy heart love.  I'm still searching for just the right vintage one I can afford, because I want to paint it an obnoxiously amazing magenta.  But for now, I settled for doing this:

Awesome pink decals by TonyaBug on Etsy.

Over the bridge I went, playing a most eclectic bunch of music -- Nine Inch Nails, Madonna, New Order, The Black Keys -- even Marilyn Manson (covering both Soft Cell and Depeche Mode).  Nothing quite like a spring-like day in February for opening the sun roof and just handing my heart over to the experience.

I'm also prone to making sudden snap decisions and am a fan of the spontaneous.  On the drive, I took a right turn at "not ready to go home yet" and a left turn into the tattoo parlor where I got my latest tattoo.  No, I didn't get any new ink, although I was sorely (SORELY) tempted.  No, this time, I had my ears pierced.  Now I have two holes in each ear, and eventually, I would like to have one ear look a bit like this or this.   My new piercings are shaped like horse shoes (good luck charms!) but once they're healed, I'll be getting something a little different, more delicate, like thin gauge hoops or the tiniest of diamonds.

Not much to see, really, but it was an act of, I guess, defiant bravery -- as was taking this photo.  I don't look in mirrors any more than I have to.  I don't know the first thing about makeup.  I look exhausted all the time.  Yet I keep doing things like dying my hair different colors and now piercing ears -- things designed to cause the eye to look right at part of me I really don't like.  A friend has recently been trying to pop some sense into my head, and my therapist reminds me I have no idea what people think when they look at anything... but still. 

So this rambling road trip of a blog post really all comes together in the end.  While I'm driving down the road, music blaring, I feel different.  I imagine myself as fierce and confident woman, a performer on a stage, and I find that deep inside this body and behind this face lies who I really am -- I AM that strong, fearless, self-assured girl who dyes her hair pink, pierces things, and gets tattoos.  I look different.  Situations are different.  But do we ever really lose who we are, who we let come out when no one's looking, who dreams audaciously and embraces life?

I hope not.


Lori Anderson creates jewelry and bead kits as well as collaborative mixed media art with her son, Zack.  Visit her shops by clicking here.  She is also the creator of the Bead Soup Blog Party®   and author of the book Bead Soup.


  1. You know, I loved that little car of yours. We had some fun back in the day, didn't we?

  2. I'll be sending you an email about this post. I have lots to say. Love that you got out Out OUT! I need to do that too!


  3. Just tons and tons and TONS of ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥!

  4. You are brave, talented, fantastic, amazing, and all that.

    I don't know who I really am or how to rediscover myself. I've never known. I just exist. I take care of others. I am planning something and you'd think I'd be excited but I am just down and sad about it for many reasons.

    So you rock. You go for it. Dream and dream BIG.

  5. LOL, your first car sounds like mine. I had a 1982 Plymouth Turismo!Biggest hunk of junk ever. I only had a.m. radio so my boyfriend ripped it out and installed a custom system worth more than the car!! I'm not feeling so young these days either and contemplating getting my nose pierced!

  6. Just love it when you write about life. Many of us can relate to parts of the car story and get a good laugh. And I might just follow you to get that second hole in my ears. I have been wanting them for a while so....

  7. Ya' know, you're just over the bridge from me -- why have we never gotten together?? I LOVE to drive.

  8. Ouch! I almost fainted from the first piercing:)

  9. I hope you always have the fearlessness to let the inside you out and never lose that part of you!

  10. My boyfriend always laughs at me because I honestly would LOVE to own the car you first bought; I'm ALL about the vintage, boxy looking cars ^.^

    We also have the vintage rabbit love in common as well! Gotta love VWs (my dream car is a Jetta).

    While health issues have inhibited my ability to drive, I eagerly anticipate the day I can finally get behind the wheel and feel that freedom you so beautifully write about :)

    Love the pierced ears, too! You and I definitely have a lot in common ^.^

  11. My first car was a 1956 Rambler that I named Mousey cause it smelled like, well you guessed it. Had to tear the roof padding out to get rid of the critters ... My first time out driving it to school, I got pulled over for being a "pollution Factor". Mind you, this was in the 70's when we were not nearly so ecologically minded.

  12. Sounds like a trip you needed to make in your love bug. defiant bravery, spontaneity, it's all good.

  13. Love the post! Keep dreaming audaciously and embracing life.

  14. Anonymous4:55 AM

    Haha, your first car sounds like mine! A little Vauxhall Nova, and I too splurged on vanity plates (hello kitty ones!). I get what you mean, when you're driving around in your car, you do feel different (like a rock star). No one can tell you off for bad singing! I miss driving, primarily for the independence it gives, and that you can sing your heart out whilst no one can hear!

  15. wow - this could have been authored by me - I, too learned to drive a stick after I bought the car; drive with the radio blaring, singing at the top of my lungs; feel free only when there is a car parked in the driveway, keys within reach and no map in sight. You put into words so many things I live on a daily basis - thank you for your thoughtful and insightful posts.

  16. What I see when I look at you, is a fearless woman who is brave enough to look at all of the many obstacles that life throws down and meet the challenge of living. That is a brave way of living. And the best part is that you've still got energy left over to greet the world with love and kindness.

    I like to sing in the car too. Really loud and very off tune. And with the words all mixed up to boot. I even do it with Peter there. It's freeing!


  17. Love it! And we must be kindred spirits... have an appointment to do something crazy with my hair next week, and getting the next tattoo in two weeks.
    I'm trying to match how I feel on the inside with the outside. May just have to leave school and go live like a wild woman in the desert. (Seriously.)

  18. Lori Thanx for sharing your life with us. I can relate to the no makeup part. My husband and I restored & customized classic cars and we loved to travel so I can relate to the car part of your story. How kool that you can still let go and feel free. I can also relate to the bad singing part. When i was a teen we recdored a song at a pajama party and I heard how bad I sounded so I rarly sing. I am learning to let go though.

  19. When I read your blog posts, one word really comes to mind: brave. You are strong and fearless in face of obstacles... and, amazingly, your words make me feel like I can be brave, too.

    Thank you.

    [And wow... Your picture of the Bay Bridge just made me really, really homesick. (I grew up in Baltimore, went to college on the Eastern Shore, and then moved to Ohio to get married.) Oh, I miss the water!]

  20. Great post - brought back memories
    My first car - bright yellow volkswagon beetle - with electric heat, choke and a sunroof
    my brother bought it new and I got 5 years later and had to learn the stick shift on the way home after he picked up his new car. I love to drive - I got in that car and drove everywhere - I remember an episode with my neice and her friend taking a tour to find "pop rocks" when they first came out
    5 hours later - I found dont be afraid to try new things - I sometimes am very shy and withdrawn but put me in a car and a road trip - again thanks for the memories

  21. Talk about memories. My first car was a Covair Spyder and that baby could corner on a dime. Unfortunately the gas gauge didn't work and I managed to run it out of gas. At that time if you ran a car out of gas you would have to prime the carb to get it started again. Well I didn't know how much to use so I put about a 1/4 cup in each. Needless to say, my car caught fire. Made me so sad as I loved that car.


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