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My Turn: Taking the wheel in the here and now

I drove to my office holiday dinner in my new red car. To my recollection, I have never owned a red car and, with certainty, I can say that my last few cars were black SUVs.

I did not go to the dealership with the intention of purchasing a red car, but it was available and, considering supply-chain shortages, I signed on the dotted line. Its actual color is "Soul Red."

When I took my seat at the dinner table with my co-workers, my Soul Red car, which had been spotted by one of them, became the topic of conversation. She asked if it was inspired by a midlife crisis. Since I am approaching my 70th birthday, I replied that it could only be a midlife crisis if I hoped to live to 140 years. Otherwise, it would have to be a seven-tenths life crisis, which I said it was not.

Another person offered a more age-appropriate, although somewhat depressing, suggestion: Perhaps it was on my bucket list. I dismissed this idea, as well, because a red car did not rise to the priority of my bucket list.

I do have such a bucket wish list, but at the top of it is seeing whales in their natural habitat. I have seen most land animals in zoos and most sea creatures in aquariums, but to view a whale, one must go out to it in the sea that is its home. I signed up for a whale tour, but it was canceled because of the pandemic. So that wish remains unfulfilled. My bucket list has other natural wonders on it, too.

The holiday dinner conversation flowed, as conversations will do, into related topics, in this case, the pros and cons of buying versus leasing vehicles. My mind was stuck on the Soul Red car.

I once owned a red suit, which back in the day, was called a power suit. Eventually, I made a note to self not to wear my power suit unless I wanted to invite comments, especially the ever-popular "lady in red." Each person who said it thought it was a unique observation. Meanwhile, I was taking bets on how many times it would be said in the course of one day.

I now own a flashy red car that apparently invites comments. Maybe it will also become the subject of a private mental game.

I am reminded of a Robinson Jeffers poem, "Inscription for a Gravestone," that talks about the deceased having undressed himself of the laughable prides of life. In the same vein, you have likely heard the expression, "You can’t take it with you when you go." If you are a believer in the spirit world, you most likely believe that there is no need for cars there, much less red cars, and such a car could qualify as a laughable pride.

I am not of the spirit world, but in the here and now of the material world. The next time someone chooses to comment on my Soul Red car, I will simply say with an unapologetic smile, "If not now, when?"

Linda Nanos,

Bellmore

YOUR STORY Letters and essays for My Turn are original works (of up to 600 words) by readers that have never appeared in print or online. Share special memories, traditions, friendships, life-changing decisions, observations of life or unforgettable moments for possible publication. Email act2@newsday.com. Include name, address, phone numbers and photos if available. Edited stories may be republished in any format.

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