The summer after I finished university, I worked a research job. After work, I’d put my hair in a pony tail, roll down both windows in my truck, crank up the volume of my favourite country radio station, and push the speed limit just a little bit. I’d pretend that I was driving a Jeep TJ with the top down.
The real thing is way better.
For his birthday in April, my husband switched the hard top on the Jeep TJ for the soft top. I thought it was perhaps a bit early to do so—the weather had scarcely warmed up here—but he was gung-ho about it. A few weeks later, we tried going for a drive with the top down. We liked it. Sunshine didn’t. The top went back up.
This weekend, it was hot and sunny, so we took the top off again. I put Sunshine’s hat and sunglasses on, tucked a blanket around her, and sat in the back with her. She smiled at me through blue glasses and seemed not to care that there wasn’t a window beside her. The wind whipped my pony tail about my face. I stuck my arm out to wave a friends of ours at a red light.
As we sped home that afternoon over a gravel road, the wind in our faces and a cloud of dust behind us, green fields spreading out around us and the sun shining on our heads, I thought, “This is freedom.” It didn’t matter right then that we don’t know what this summer—or next year—holds for us. We had a Jeep TJ and everything was grand.
Then yesterday, somebody slashed a hole in our soft top. It was sitting right in our driveway, in the middle of the afternoon. My husband was on the phone, and Sunshine and I had gone to get the mail. None of our neighbours saw it happen. Likely, it was a kid at the school where my husband teaches, because they know where he lives and our bright green Jeep TJ does stand out just a little bit.
So once again, we’re filing a police report for vehicle vandalism. We lived on the edge of a bad area of the city for one and a half years, with hookers on the corner and bums in the alley, and never had a problem. Then we move to a small town and get vandalized twice in two months. Our welcome to town was a smashed window; our goodbye to town is a slashed window.
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