Wednesday, April 22, 2015


There were two things I wanted when I was sixteen years old and of driving age: a really, really cute boyfriend and a rag-top Jeep. Not necessarily in that order.

The cute boyfriend!!
The cute boyfriend, well, I figured he would come eventually. (And he did, in the form of one tall, dark and handsome Pennsylvania transplant.) But I wanted that Jeep stat, because the turquoise 1979 Mustang (named Vivian--don't tell me you don't name your cars??? The one I drive now is named Taja) wasn't cuttin' it for me (I'll see if I can find a luck. Apparently, all pictures of Vivian have vanished). I needed something cooler, more radical.

A Jeep.

My dad was cool with lots of things. Leather jacket wearing phases. Lots of makeup wearing phases. Bad boyfriend dating phases. (And then I realized I am still in a bad spelling phase. That may never go away. At least I realized that faze and phase are totally not the same thing. Two words. Free. Spirit. It's mine now. I'm running with it.) Getting a tattoo. (However, he was NOT okay with the belly button piercing.) He taught me how to drive a straight-shift and how to respect the truckers on the road. He taught me how to talk into a CB radio (breaker-breaker 1-9), he taught me how to drive in the snow, and he really didn't mind when I sometimes cussed in front of him. But my dad refused to even consider getting me a Jeep. 

The dad who said no Jeep. Ever.

"Too dangerous," he would say. "Waaaay too dangerous."

And it wasn't long after my eighteenth birthday when I was driving the flat interstate in flat New Mexico that I saw an accident involving a Jeep Wrangler. It's roll bars were on one side of the road, and the rest of it was on the other.

You know, I remember thinking, maybe dad was right. Maybe Jeeps are too dangerous.

Never mind the fact that I have secretly wished for a Jeep Wrangler, even in the face of danger and severed roll bars, since the age of sixteen, all the while driving practical cars like Nissan Maximas and SUVs.

 My friend says I'm a free spirit. She says that this wonderful (?) quality is one of the reasons why that tall, dark and handsome Pennsylvania transplant must have asked me out in the first place, despite the tattoo and complete disregard for time. (This has improved slightly with time, but free spirits are typically late. Everywhere. It's just a part of who we are.)

I think my dad must be a free spirit, too, because I met him for a few minutes today to catch up, and he proudly showed me a picture of his newest baby. Nope, not a new Harley. (He wishes. So does his HOG group.) 

A new Jeep.

The dad that said yes, Jeep.

Literally. The car I begged and pleaded for approximately 22 years ago. Sitting in his driveway.

And I was all like

Sometimes life just isn't fair.

He said he would let me drive it sometime.

Free spirits don't always live by the rules. They don't always say this is dangerous. Sometimes they shout an enthusiastic YES! this is DANGEROUS!! 

And so I started thinking about my so-called (if you inserted life right there, you are definitely a child of the 90s) free spirit. I don't like living under a bunch of rules and pressure. I don't always like practicality, and would prefer driving a Jeep to driving a Maxima, if I had things my own way (I'd also take a Maserati, if it matters to any one). I don't like allowing rules to define me. I want to drive a Jeep and have a tattoo and dye my hair in an ombre and wear big sunglasses and beautiful high heels. So why do I live confined by the world's rules on beauty? Why have I allowed other people to define what beauty is for me? When did I sit down and fold my hands, when did I say I would just accept society's definition of beauty, take it at face value? When did I wave that white flag? When did I give up?

Sometimes we might think this is too dangerous. I've been there. That mindset that says if I don't look like what the world says is beautiful, then I must not be beautiful. But that's being confined by rules that don't even apply to me any more. I don't have to fit into any beauty box. No molds. No rules.

I am a free spirit. It's my turn to cry YES! this is DANGEROUS! 

Freedom. It's not always the absence of rules that makes one free, but the presence of the right restrictions. Finding the ones that are the most liberating. 

God says He made me, and not only did He make me, but He made me (me!) into His masterpiece. The world's rules might suggest that I am only a masterpiece if I look a certain way, and I might be tempted to stay confined and oppressed by those rules. But He says I don't have to live by those rules. I'm free from them. I don't have to believe them and I definitely don't have to live by them.

So go ahead. Unfold yourself from that box you've been crammed into. Stretch your legs. Lift your arms. Spread your free spirit wings and fly.

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