Ex California girl shares random thoughts while driving Vintage BMW on the deserted country roads of SE Kansas
Random Thoughts While Driving my Vintage BMW
THE AUTO ZONE
By Kathy Novelli
Driving to town on the beautiful road to my country farm, I am struck with many thoughts; wistful fantasies while listening to Steely Dan, my favorite jazz/contemporary group of all time. The mood is magical; the intelligent musical arrangement and words which always move me, are doing it again.
I am in wonderland. Drifting in my own personal world. Because I spend many hours alone, I am so fortunate to have this time for whimsical imagination. And feelings.
There is nothing more freeing to my soul than to be flying down the road in my mechanically perfect vintage BMW, engine humming, stereo loud, wind blowing through the car and into my face. I love it! I feel like I am floating, taken with the beat and throb of the sound system, entertained by the creativity of the musicians I love the most! I am an onlooker or even a player in the melodic melodramas musically unfolding as I drive.
This is freedom; this is what it must mean to be free. I glide to my destination, my mind creating all types of imaginary situations; I believe I can leave my body; soar to wherever I desire.
Imagination is as real as ‘reality.’ The feelings are as intense, the sensations are equal and the satisfaction derived from flights of fantasy ….for me…..are as profound.
I feel like I’ve “come out” here in Kansas. I have not felt this fancy free in years; decades. Meeting all types of people, finding myself in new, unfamiliar but inviting and delightful situations, taking part in local activities, meeting friends at the very popular restaurant/bar which is “dressed up” in ’40’s attire. Laughing and feeling like life is new. This place is wonderful.
Sometimes, I feel reborn. “I was so much older then, I’m younger than that, now.” Thank you, Mr. Dylan! I believe I’ve found my home. The place I’ve yearned for, for so long; the hometown my hometown ceased to be for me. This is heartland Americana, Norman Rockwell’s America.
Entering the outskirts of town, there are young boys riding down the street on their bikes, kids walking to the nearest pond with rod and reel in hand; little children being little children. Childhood has not been lost here in Independence, Kansas. Young pre teens and giggling ‘just teenage’ girls gather with their friends cued in line at the SnowCone Palace, a delightful old establishment which has been in town for years; obviously an old home turned into the kids’ favorite summertime refreshment stand.
Though they participate in many sports, family responsibilities and duties, school plays, club activities and more; the kids here are still kids. Families proudly display banners in front of their homes proclaiming the activities their kids specialize in. Walking down the street, one will see “Baseball,“ “Cheer Leading,“ “Football,“ “Tennis” and more, recognizing the young ones’ efforts. They have not been overexposed to the ugly side of human nature; not yet. The youngsters here smile freely, they are helpful and respectful; they really seem to be happy. Parents are involved with their kids’ well being but they don’t appear to smother.
The primary street, Pennsylvania Avenue; fondly referred to as “Penn,” is “main street” America without a doubt. Populated by soda fountains, complete with the long counter and swivel chairs, home made breads and soups, all the ‘goodies;‘ you name it. The local drug store, is a Rexall, no less. Stores with names such as “Nanny LaRose’s,” “BeAnnes Beads,” “Middy‘s Creations,” and “Uncle Jacks,” line both sides of the street. Mostly locally owned for decades, few franchise and even fewer “big box” type structures exist - with the exception of a Wal Mart on the north end of town. Downtown Independence is virtually unsullied by modern day madness. People frequent the stores; the businesses thrive. This town serves the local population with pride. There are hardware stores, a sew and fabric shop, “Little Angels” children’s shop, a local photographer’s store where high school graduation pictures are his expertise, and so much more.
Renovation is rampant in Independence but, unlike other unfortunate Urban Renewal projects; the old historic buildings here are being preserved in all their former glory. Tiled and festooned with filigree; hand hewn rock and beautiful wooden sculptured entryways gleam with the effort; the touch of caring hands whose owners know the value; the worthiness of the old edifices. I am so glad to be able to say, “I was there to see it reborn.” Even without the ongoing facial lift; this town is beautiful, inviting, warm and friendly.
I am easily lost in it all. And I am easily swept up and away with the whoosh of feelings inspired by this place and my fortune for having found it. And the time allowed to entertain myself with uninhibited musings.
And, as I drive home, almost in ‘auto’ mode; I feel as though I know what Joe Montana meant when he referred to being in “the zone.” The surroundings give way to that “lighter than air” other worldly feeling. Light as a feather and free as a bird; I am as unfettered as my imagination allows. I bathe myself in the almost surreal nature of finding myself in these pristine surroundings. Trees swaying in ever present winds, a sky so big it rivals Montana hands down; so expansive that it takes your breath away, clouds so luscious and colorful, their true beauty cannot be captured by camera. This is the perfect set for flights of fantasy.
Fantasy. Not the typical fantasy which may spring to mind when hearing the word. I mean, real, unbridled, and an almost ethereal experience. Sometimes, I think this must be what is meant when one hears of “enlightenment,” or that ultimate ‘realization,’ life beyond the physical. A priori! It is all real, to me. All equally valid.
These are the ideas which pass through my mind as I drive the long, beautiful road, home. It’s a feeling that is almost lost when I try to describe it in fact, I am not really able to explain it; to express this freedom I feel. The moment I try, a part is lost.
But, I know that, soon, I’ll be driving to or from town again, windows down, music loud and gliding down empty country roads I am the only one traveling this way today. There is no one else in sight and, again, I find myself driving in the auto zone; lost in imaginings too wonderful to fully communicate.
How lucky can a girl be!?!