Once Upon a Time – Style It and Profile It

Once upon a time, she knew that she would be driving back to Boston rather than flying. She didn’t know directly – she simply had a sense about it, a few days before her flight to Savannah to visit her family in Lyons.

The first morning she was in Lyons, she went for a walk to see the sights and to breathe in the air of this little town in Southeast Georgia that she loved, the same one from which she had run away years ago.

It was November, still warm, and the ground in her mother’s yard was covered with leaves, under which she knew lay thousands of precious pecans, naturally organic. While she almost raced out to those leaves, she took off, instead, toward town across the railroad tracks. As she passed by the empty lot just before the Vidalia Onion Warehouse with the faded, now barely red letters, her pecan antenna piqued up and she looked to the left. There was a lone pecan tree separated from it’s clan that seemed to be growing up out of the sidewalk – its pecans were strewn underneath. She filled her pockets for later.

From there she turned the corner. Ahead she saw a used car lot. “Interesting,” she thought. A bright yellow Volkswagen Beetle caught her eye. A salesman met her at the car and asked, in his most gracious Southern manner, if he could be of help. She thought she might take it for a spin, but as she walked to the other side, she saw, parked right next to it, a silver Cadillac DeVille.

She left the Beetle right away and began admiring the mint condition DeVille. Within a few moments, the salesman had photocopied her Massachusetts driver’s license and given her the keys to the DeVille until the next afternoon. Not in Boston, she thought.

On the four block drive back to her family’s very modest and slightly run-down farm house, this time crossing the railroad tracks by way of the old Piggly Wiggly, she remembered the story Jimmie Lou told of her Dad about his first Cadillac. He had been a modest farmer, but one day had the idea to convert much of his farm acreage into a housing development, with houses he would build. During this prosperous process, he bought a Cadillac and proclaimed, in his own Scarlett O’Hara style of passion, “I’ll always drive a Cadillac from this day forward.” And he did.

She remembered her own dreams some years ago of flying (which is really driving really fast with the wind through your hair) cross country in a Cadillac convertible, the classic style, with the big fins.

Waking from her day dreams, she parked in the front yard, parallel to the street, in a space between the front porch and the pavement just wide enough for the De Ville. She was aware of the impact of this car on this street as some of the “boys” from down the street unabashedly ogled the De Ville. She noticed the curtain in the living room window pulled slightly back and detected the side of her Mom’s face looking out from behind. “What’s that?” her brother asked when she walked in, of course knowing full well.

What it was was identity dissonance. Who did she think she was? Imagine parking this shiny and very long car on the streets in her Boston neighborhood. How, and where, would she ever park it? Would the edgy neighborhood dudes take her down a notch and slash the tires or run keys down the side? Would the neighbors snub her? She called a couple of friends from Boston and her oldest friend in Texas to discuss the matter. What she was really looking for was permission.

Later that afternoon she drove her brother down Route 1 and out into the country to pick up their sister. Her brother gave her his best Cadillac consult, being himself a great appreciator of the “finer things” in life. “Style it and profile it,” he said. “That’s how you drive a Cadillac.” So, she styled it and profiled it back to town, and then the 1300 miles north to Boston. It was the most luxurious and comfortable Boston-Lyons trip she had ever driven, and she had driven many over the years.

There was a parking space right in front of her condominium. Parking a car had never been easier in the city: it simply glided in. She saw a few neighbors’ eyebrows raised, but in admiration. Her next door neighbor, who had oohed and aahed over the car on several occasions, bought his own version of a DeVille the following spring.

She may never buy another Cadillac; the inspiration would never be the same. Nevertheless, driving one became totally natural.


• What is the yellow VW Beetle in your life?
• What is the Cadillac?

Of course, enjoy the process! And remember:

Stepping into your greatness is the most natural thing you’ll ever do!