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On the Road – Cars as a Vehicle to Drive Transformation

As we make our way in this world, a parallel can often be drawn between our life journey and our physical meanderings on the earth. Sometimes it is easy to look back and see how far we’ve come in a lifetime, and perhaps liken the progression of our life to an actual journey. Just like one uses a vehicle to physically travel from point A to point B, so we can say our route from conception through the different stages of life is similarly a trip, of living, learning and – hopefully – some sort of evolution towards a higher consciousness.

And so I have used the idea of a road trip metaphorically in the first book of Atomic Goddess. Not to give too much away, Ange finds she must travel across the United States in order to progress on her growth from human to goddess. Of course, this is not meant as a literal transformation resulting from her being physically in a car and driving from her point A to her point B. It is rather a measure that is necessary to give her the time she needs to learn, adjust, and grow into the goddess she must become.

After all, she could have simply boarded an airplane, and been at her destination in a matter of hours instead of days. But what would that accomplish? She would have learned nothing from doing that, and therefore she would not have been ready to proceed on the next stage of her ‘goddess-hood’.

But having to take the time to drive across that vast distance, she has the opportunity to experience things that will prompt the growth she needs, so that by the time she has arrived at her destination, she is a lot further along in her development, understands a lot more, has practiced her skills, and is ready (if anyone ever can be truly ready) to goddess it with the best of them.

And being set in the 1960’s, what better road to drive than the ‘Mother Road’ – Route 66? Even though she starts from Jacksonville, Florida instead of Chicago, Illinois, she uses the road trip as an opportunity to drive at least half of the famous road, from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, right through to Los Angeles, California. In fact, it was a dream that she inherited from her father, who has always been too busy with work to actually follow his dream and drive the entire route.

Not that she goes by car for that reason. In the story, she is very plainly guided by spirit to drive rather than take a quicker option, for the reason explained above – that she must take her time and learn things along the way that will prepare her for greater things. But knowing she must drive, it is the perfect excuse to meet up with Route 66 at the nearest point, and travel the rest of the way on it.

Route 66 is the stuff of legends. It was symbolic of the flight to freedom (or at least, a better life) by the many Americans who were forced to leave their homes and farms on the Great Plains during the dustbowl era of the 1930’s, and others during the 1940’s in search of work in the war-related industries in California.

Beyond that, Route 66 was advertised as being ideal for holiday travel, as it linked so many interesting places across the vast distance of the USA. And of course, it was immortalised in the popular culture of the time, like Jack Kerouac’s book, ‘On the Road’, and the song ‘(Get Your Kicks On) Route 66’, written by Bobby Troup and covered by artists such as Chuck Berry and The Rolling Stones.

This brings me to the subject of her vehicle. Probably any car of the time would have been adequate for the purpose, but right from the beginning, I imagined Ange with a car that spoke volumes about her personality.

I took the image from that initial vision, researched it, and discovered that her vehicle was a black 1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz convertible – a classic car of its time with the standard tail fins, chrome and whitewall tyres. A solid, heavy, chunky car with a monstrous grill at the front and a steering wheel the size of a small European nation that it would surely take a Hercules or two to wrestle into compliance.

1959 Cadillac Eldorado Biarritz against a backdrop of Route 66 imagery

So what would such a car say about Ange? Maybe the parallels were subconscious at first, as I had no idea why I wished such a huge brick of a car on her. But on examination, I think I can explain it.

When you look past the immense size of this car, you see that it has the distinct styling of cars of the 1950’s – long, low, sleek lines, highlighted with lots of shiny chrome. It looks fast, like a rocket, like it might launch itself straight off the tarmac and into space. This is a very special car, one of a series of cars that were top of the line models.

Even the name, Eldorado, is special. It’s a contraction of the Spanish words, El Dorado, that translate to ‘gilded or golden one’. Biarritz was the designation given to the car being a convertible.

In the story I explain Ange’s ownership of this car by saying it was a hand-me-down from her parents. They would have bought it brand new when it came out, and then by the mid-sixties, when they were ready to update, it was passed down to Ange, as Karen would have been off living her own life on the other side of the states by then. Which is fair enough.

But if Ange hadn’t liked the car, she needn’t have kept it. She could have sold it and bought one that better suited her. Obviously she liked the caddy, as it reflected something about her, perhaps an image she wanted to project.

I have described Ange physically as being short with an thin build, and like many shorter people, she would have felt like she was easily overlooked or ignored because of her stature. Thus I think she would have liked having a big-ass car – not so much to say, ‘hey, look at me!’ but more to say, ‘hey, get out of my way!’

All her life she felt second best and under-rated – youngest child, small, skinny, quiet (though hardly passive), and at times powerless to stop things from going on around her that she knew to be wrong.

The car reflects her in a lot of ways – dark and moody-looking, no nonsense, not someone to tangle with. And Ange very much liked items that were vintage in some way, stylish and classy. A tick in that box as well.

So would she have had trouble handling such a big, gutsy car? Perhaps not. I have also described her as strong and athletic from years of gym and track and field events. As a top of the line car – considered a luxury car – it would have been made to handle well on the road. And I envision that her father would have spent much time in keeping the maintenance up. He wouldn’t have passed on a dud to his daughter.

This car was designed to make an impression – big, bold and classy, a car for pursuing life in, presenting an uncompromising standard of excellence. I’m sure that would have appealed to Ange.

In comparison, her boyfriend, Gabe, did the guy thing and got the latest muscle car, a red Pontiac Firebird which he nicknamed ‘The Phoenix’. Everything about this car says ‘freedom’ and ‘rebirth’ – especially after years of being kept under the thumb within his family. Unfortunately (as with James Dean and his classic Spyder, years before), a phoenix must crash and burn to attain it’s rebirth and resulting legendary status.

Ange eventually finds that her vehicle to freedom, her iconic black caddy, has fulfilled its purpose for the time being, and she must abandon it (not forever, thank goodness) so she can continue her journey as a goddess. As Isis, she can transform into a Kite, a predatory bird common to Northern Africa and the Middle East. So from chrome tail fins she progresses to actual wings, and a place amongst the gods and goddesses of antiquity…

Keep a smile on your dial until next time, and peace and love in your heart

From Lana Lea and her time-travelling muse

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