Talking with Kenny Mann, whose film “Beautiful Tree, Severed Roots,” about her ancestral past, will be shown at Bay Street on Sunday, got me thinking about identity and, of course, how it relates to me.
But after I suffered from a weekend of tryptophan-induced writer’s block, my husband, the beautiful Eric Johnson, suggested that I get in touch with Who I Am by describing the stickers on my car. And you know what? As his suggestions go, which usually include all sorts of naughty stuff not fit for print, it’s not half bad.
I drive a white 1998 Volvo with 190,000 miles on it. You would know it if you saw it around town, because it is covered with colorful magnetic flowers and insects, and is frequently pointed at and commented on. I have emblazoned my last three cars with magnets, which make me smile every time I see them.
But what sends me over the moon is the giant-size magnetic Band-Aid I recently added to the front driver’s-side panel over a big boo-boo that I can’t afford to fix. What a great idea. Thank you, magnetic car Band-Aid inventor. Almost makes me want to go out and sideswipe another one of those invisible yellow cement poles.
“Bonac Football” — I found this in an overstuffed desk drawer I was cleaning out at The Star. My daughter, Jo, is now a sophomore at East Hampton High School. I sport the Bonac colors with pride.
“We’re Not Going to Guam, Are We?” — From the fifth season of “Lost.” The pilot, Frank Lapidus, an island escapee, notices that his planned flight to Guam is filled with familiar unplanned guests, namely the folks who are now trying to find the portal that will get them back to the middle of their ocean paradise by crashing Frank’s plane. In a very serious show, it is one of the lighter moments. Losties honk their horns at me when they see this sticker.
“Nam Myoho Renge Kyo” — literally “I honor the mystic law of cause and effect through sound vibrations,” the chant that my family of Nichiren Buddhists repeats twice a day, morning and evening, for about 15 minutes. “Renge” is the lotus flower, which has its roots deep in the sludge of a pond, but produces a beautiful blossom, symbolizing the Buddhist tenet of “changing poison into medicine.” It also is the only flower that simultaneously blooms and seeds, and therefore symbolizes the simultaneity of cause and effect. I know, I know — that’s a little long for a bumper sticker.
“Leave the World a Better Place Than You Found It” — the most recent arrival on my back bumper. I got this one last month when I visited my best friend in the whole world, Jenn Dwight, down in Virginia Beach. Virginia Beach is also the home of the Edgar Cayce Institute, practically the originator of the New Age movement, with a fabulous store chock-full of crystals and chimes and books and healthy snacks and more, including this bumper sticker. The sentiment is something my mother has tried to instill in me. So when I look at this, it reminds me of Jenn, of my mother, and of the serenity I feel when walking the labyrinth in front of the institute, with the Atlantic Ocean twinkling in the distance.
“SPG” — I finally succumbed and got one of those elliptical European stickers. My home hamlet of Springs.
“The East Hampton Star” — It’s where I work.
When this car finally conks out — years from now, let’s hope — I may choose to drive an anonymous, unadorned vehicle simply reeking of class and status, and save my precious viewpoints for long and deep conversations over dinner with a trusted few. But for now, my car is an extension of Who I Am, and Who I Am is sort of a mess and always in a hurry. But cheerful, just like my Volvo.
I have no problem expressing myself with shallow, pithy aphorisms, at least for now, and especially if the flowers and butterflies on the sides of my car, or the person who’s driving, can make someone smile.
Bridget LeRoy is a reporter at The Star.