Friday, August 31, 2007

Ten Years Ago Today

Ten years ago today I was at Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for the vintage racing weekend. There is nothing better than to see extremely rare and valuable automobiles flying around a beautiful road course at high rates of speed. Because hey - why have the damn race car if you are going to keep it in a garage? Also, Lime Rock is in a gorgeous part of Connecticut where there are lovely inns and restaurants and antiques and tag sales - with a dose of racing. Tom and I have visited Lime Rock over the years for many races - American Le Mans, vintage races and for Quattro Club high performance driving schools. Because hey - if you've got Quattro, shouldn't you know what your maximum apex speed is?

Anyway, after a weekend of watching people drive fast, I always got the urge to drive a little fast (but not so fast that I'll get a ticket, that would be a bummer) - so Tom indulged me and let me take us for a spin on a farm road not far from the track. I had been hot-footing it past cows for about 10 minutes when Tom turned on the radio. Because all of the radio buttons in the car are tuned to various NPR stations the news was just being reported that Princess Diana had died in a car accident in Paris. I was so uncertain of what I had heard that I pulled onto the shoulder (narrowly avoiding a ditch) and gasped for breath while my eyes filled with hot tears. I waited on the shoulder until I heard the report again. I remember Tom looking at me and asking if I was alright. I was definitely not and he took the wheel and steered us home while I cried no, no, no.

Since that day, no matter what vehicle I am in, and no matter the distance - I am wearing a seat belt. Not a taxi or limo or even my own car will I sit in without a seat belt.

I'm a couple of years younger than Diana, so I was filled with semi-romantic notions about the Royal Wedding in July of 1981. Getting up at 3:00am to watch the wedding is something I'll never forget. I still have a scrap book of newspaper articles about the wedding preparations. Every time I do "clean house" episode I look at those books and say "keep pile" because there are some ties that can't be broken.

Charles-the-idiot seemed kind of dopey, but then we girls work with the clay we've been given. She was so shy and sweet and trying to appear so grown up. It was quickly apparent that she was way too "modern" for the family and their efforts to quash her natural charisma and charm were wasted effort on their part, and harmful to her. The fact that Charles-the-idiot would keep after Camilla-the-horseface-girl should have shown the royal household that the marriage would not last. Maybe Diana really was brought in just for an heir.

Diana's choice to really "work" as a royal I think jabbed many other royals in the butt (like the silly incident of the Fergie and Diana poking the bottoms of friends at Ascot.) Her charities still benefit from her involvement. The International Campaign to Ban Land Mines has had a great deal of success in the fight against proliferation. Her work to bring greater understanding about AIDS and care of those suffering was a turning point in the AIDS crisis.

I miss her fashionable ways. I miss seeing her rise up over the people who were such jerks to her. I really miss her. But I can't imagine my missing the only "real life princess" of my lifetime comes close to the longing of her sons. Here's to William and Harry, I hope today is a turning point for them too.

Her relationship with Mother Teresa makes a lot of sense given the revelations about Mother Teresa's doubts about the existence of God. She persevered in her work through the doubt and kept a smiling face turned outward. That same smiling face turned outward describes Diana's work during the most difficult time in her life.

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