36x36 acrylic/ canvas/ art resin/ glitter/ pearl mica flake/ crushed glass. Ready to hang.
It was early in the year of 2013. The white 2012 Mustang I had paid the $200 transfer fee from San Diego to Las Vegas was sitting in front of me. I just stood there in the sun. The dealer tosses me the keys. I recall not catching them and feeling like an idiot.
When I got into that car I’ll never forget that feeling. Slipping into the white leather bucket seats was like a tight hug from a wind goddess. The power behind the gas pedal was moving to me, like a church. The feeling of driving away from the car dealer for the very first time, in my car felt like I had robbed a bank or something. I couldn’t believe she was mine. I named her Starlight after the white horse in rainbow brite because I had finally done enough work in recovery in my life to know that nobody was coming to save me. I was going to save myself, with my own white horse. Financed by only me.
Lifetimes ago, when someone did pull me out of a very bad life situation, I remember walking out of that place and up to his white 97 Mustang. I thought I had been saved all of those years ago - and that car was the representation of that. But then he overdosed and our life together ended. His brother took the car. The last time I saw it I was drinking from a bottle of Tanguarrry in the parking lot of my boyfriend's funeral. That life ended up in a storage space or a grave. I always felt like I was seeing an angel if I were driving and saw a Mustang that year and color. If I could stop hyperventilating. Even today they are very rare to see but I always feel a little safer if I do.
In 2006 they were re-designed. I really, really wanted a black one. I went through this awful breakup and the guy bought the exact black Mustang I wanted. It’s so funny to think about now but back then to me it felt like such a betrayal. My father, who was not emotional or really empathetic in many ways - seemed to really take this to heart. Four or five times after that if I were sad and moping around we would go to a random dealership together to test drive the new Mustangs on Saturdays. He would convince the salesperson to let us test drive the car just the two of us, and then we’d floor it on I80, me cackling as my Dad tried to find the classic rock station on the radio to turn up.
I was in no position to buy something like that back then but 7 years later when I needed a new car I couldn’t think of another car I would rather have. I had three years clean, I was single, I had my own apartment, and a steady job in a good restaurant. I was still shocked that they would sell it to me. When you’re an addict, even in recovery, credit reports feel like blood tests or dental appointments. You never know what they will find, or how they will look at you. It’s easier to just avoid all of it out of fear or shame.
I got her a Wild & Free Nevada plate with a white horse on it. The plate said STRLT. That car became my sanctuary. The place I always went to and could finally hear my own heartbeat again after beat-down restaurant shifts in fishnet tights and my “ mini skirt wetsuit” outfit in Las Vegas. I think I processed my Dads whole death shortly after I got the car by listening to Lady Gaga just driving aimlessly on all of the freeways with an iced coffee at 1 am. The speed and movement of the car were my only comfort it seemed. There were so many times I just wanted to die. I’d close my eyes and take my hands off the steering wheel, just wishing death would come. The pain of that loss was too much. Loss always compounds all of the loss before too. But death never came, not for me. It is why I think it is chasing me now on highways. I invited it in all those years ago but this white horse angel of a car has always managed to keep me safe.
I took that car to Tecopa every week to stretch in the hot springs. Besides the people, that is what I miss about living in Las Vegas the most. She went to burning man - she still has her Mutant Vehicle Registration sticker on the windshield. I drove to Santa Rosa and Joshua Tree to do my first Vipassana. All the way to Chicago and back with the two dachshunds. I drove her 130,000 miles. The day I met my husband it was him as a new stranger with an intense British accent sitting in the passenger seat talking to me.I kept my eyes on the road at Red Rock, afraid to look at him. A year and a half later we got married and drove her to the chapel. I stayed clean, stayed in my lane, became a good wife, and worked on my recovery. I became an art therapist and yoga teacher and called everyone from that car to tell them. I found out I was offered my management position in San Diego in that car after 9 interviews. I moved to San Diego with Starlight - to the beach, my only real structured dream in life coming true against all odds. I learned to run a building of employees and stayed clean through the level of pain and unmanageability it took to let go of everything I worked for because it was not what I wanted or could handle. I did hundreds and hundreds of yoga classes. I learned the 90-minute Bikram yoga dialogue mostly in the driver's seat of that car, saying each posture to the steering wheel for 9 months instead of listening to music. I ugly cried into the steering wheel the first few times I had to teach on the podium with the microphone. Walking through that kind of created fear has been the biggest gift of all. I created not just hundreds of paintings but a sustainable income and career selling them.
It was always an outlandish thing to do considering gas prices but every morning since the pandemic I would drive Starlight up The Strand and back. The Strand is the road in San Diego that connects Imperial Beach to Coronado Island. The Pacific Ocean is on one side and the San Diego Bay is on the other. There is no other road like it that I have felt. It was like a meditation really on the fact that I could create a life with anything I wanted if I just stay clear and worked hard. That short drive has always reminded me that anything is possible, and change isn’t always a bad or hurtful thing.
My ten years with Starlight taught me that I’m no longer seeking freedom in symbolism and movement. After all of these years, I have simply become those things. My life, the love and relationships that I have, the momentum of my career, the power of my message of recovery, and the people I get to know as a result, as well as what I can consistently create - reflect that.
I have found another Mustang. A 2021 Velocity Blue convertible. My Dad called me Smurf my whole life (I was born blue and choking lol) and Smurf is 10000% my favorite word my husband says in his accent. My credit is a few points below 800. I’m not afraid they won’t sell it to me. I’m more just curious if it will work out and if that is the car I am supposed to have. It is located in Las Vegas ironically so I would have to fly there, buy the car, hang out for a week, and drive it home to San Diego.
I don’t get into chakras much but this past year has been all about using the power of my voice to make a living and create what I came here to create. The art I am making and their stories, the book I am writing, the yoga I am teaching. My mentor always told me that when I could use my heart and voice together I would be unstoppable. All those years ago it felt like an impossible thing to even imagine. But today, I really feel myself stepping into that power in many different ways. An electric blue horse to match the fifth chakra to take me through the next ten plus years seems like the perfect fit, but we will see.
I’m not making and selling art right now I am writing a memoir but when Starlight died on the 805 last week there was nothing else I could think of to do to process a loss like that except start trying to paint the wind, and the freedom, and the voice that it took me 130,000 miles to know is mine.
I hope this painting sparks with the reminder of the power, progress, and perfection that is rightfully yours. The way those frequencies of change moves and sparkle in a positive light if you allow. That there is a velocity and intention to where finding the words to life and experience takes us, if we are willing.