My grandma Flo behind the wheel, circa 1919. She was a breast cancer survivor, too.
I have a confession to make.
I traded in my ovaries for a Porsche. It wasn’t a straight trade, of course, but my perspective was that if I was going to have to give up something so precious, I wanted something really outstanding in return.
The shape and sound of a Porsche has held my heart since I was a teenager. I blame this on my first boyfriend, who drove a 914. In a bold statement entirely disconnected from any financial implications, I told myself that someday I too would own a Porsche - preferably before I was 30. At 15, it seemed like a reasonably long timeframe, and even then I understood the importance of not pining away too long for something beautiful.
Life came into sharp focus when I turned 33, and was handed a breast cancer diagnosis only a year after I was handed my new baby boy. I did what was needed to be done for treatment at that time, and attempted to get on with life. Five years later, after doing some real soul searching about the implications both for my family and for myself, I opted to remove what was the last known impediment to my long-term health: my ovaries. I wanted, as I’ve mentioned, something more tangible in return than just the knowledge that I “did all I could do.”
My story is not one of unearthing my car in a barn in Maine; rather, I watched the car ads in the paper and online. So when I found a 1984 silver 911 Carrera convertible with close to 92,000 miles that cost 1/2 of what a new car would, my husband and I jumped at a test drive. And just like that, I slid behind the wheel of the car of my dreams. We drove home with the top down, although it was November and 50 degrees.
The car doesn’t have power steering - that came in the next model year - so driving her is really an active pursuit. You have to steer with your muscles, especially when parallel parking. Her tires are squat and fat, all the better to hug the road. And she does.
She goes everywhere with me. The longest drive she's been on was a family trip down Highway 1 from San Francisco to San Diego, top down, all our luggage snuggled in the bonnet truck in the front or wedged behind the driver’s seat. My son spent countless hours in the jump seat in the back (sometimes with a blanket over his head) trying to sleep. When it was my turn to take the back seat and I wriggled in there with my legs going sideways, put my head back, and watched the clouds.
And yes, I did stick my young son in a car seat in the back, and then as he grew he eventually moved to the front seat next to me. And yes, I did it with the top down and the wind in our hair. I’m sure there are mothers all over town who wondered what I was thinking to be so reckless, but as I know all too well, life is short and it begs to be lived.
In my case, that’s done behind the wheel of an old Porsche convertible, tunes turned up high, singing into the wind.