“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow, what a Ride."” - Hunter S. Thompson
I did not intend for the ride to be so wild. I would love to arrive at the end safely in a pretty and well-preserved body but destiny keeps throwing curve balls and in my attempt to hit them and stay in the game, I get beat up, a little dirty and less pristine than say, a woman who doesn’t play ball. I grew up not only with a father and brother who lived by Hunter’s proclamation but grew up with Hunter himself. He became a friend because my dad was a magnet for ex-pat Kentuckians as well as superstar outlaws, so as a teenager I hung out with Mr. Thompson at golf tournaments and his place in Colorado.
I dressed like a boy in golf shirts and jeans. It was a man’s world and my dad bought me clothes straight out of the golf shop, preferring to ignore the fact that I was a girl. I would be hard pressed to say who was the wildest of the three men, Daddy, Hunter or my brother, Chan but all three died “skidding in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and exclaiming, “Wow what a ride.” And what a ride they had.
On the contrary, I have been striving for a smooth ride but fate is just not having it. Still, there is no giving up, there is no quit. This I garnered by living amongst some of the craziest, on the edge men on the planet. My rebellion came by way of fashion as a teen and young adult when I wore outlandish outfits inappropriate for the Idle Hour Country Club but they were great for the stage… or backstage as I became more and more fascinated with musicians in general and Ziggy Stardust in particular. I may have had on paisley flare pants and a green boa but inside I was wearing shorts and a golf shirt, taunting the pitcher, ‘give me your best shot.’ Not very feminine I agree, but in the end we are who we are and I am a product of my environment.
So, when the bitter chill of unwanted change is in the air, when the river has risen clean-up to my door, I may lay in bed for a day and cry. I will most certainly feel devastated and heart-broken when what I thought was my career for life, my landing space, my forever safe haven turns out to be just another stop on the tour. I will beg God to help me and for a time be scared to death, dizzy with disappointment. Then I will become that little girl with copper colored hair and tube socks who beat every little boy in the neighborhood when we raced. I’ll remember my powerful upbringing which built me to withstand whatever life throws. Finally, and possibly most hard to relate to, I may forfeit Dianna Krall and Bob Dylan and spend a day or two listening to the soundtrack to Hustle and Flow, blaring the chorus, “Who’s a bad, bad b----?”
Eventually, the storm passes, the river recedes and the ocean calms. I never planned for this gypsy life, ironically all I have ever wanted was stability. But I was born a “son of a sailor,” like Jimmy Buffet, “raised on robbery,” as Joni Mitchell sang and the familial call was as Warren Zevon growled, “send lawyers, guns and money, Dad get me out of this.” I’m doing the best I can.