“I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly
I’ll do what it takes til’ I touch the sky
And I’ll make a wish
Take a chance
Make a change
Kelly Clarkson, “Breakaway”
I’ve felt these moments in my life, when I spread my wings and learned to fly. Like with other things, it came in spurts. For some reason, I’ve always been amazed when I’ve reached some new level, a new age and achieved some new accomplishment as if it’s surprising and perhaps it shouldn’t be.
Sometimes, I get in my car and I still think to myself… I can’t believe I’m driving alone. I’m nearly 32 years old now and been driving since 16. This really shouldn’t still be so incredible to me but it is and sometimes I think that’s not good and sometimes I think it’s great.
I suppose the value of still be in awe of such things is that there’s less opportunity to take something for granted. There’s always a sense of gratitude, achievement, success. The pitfall, of course, is what’s happening to me now, which is I can’t believe I’m getting older and it’s hard to accept. I think somewhere in the back of my mind I was never supposed to get older than say, 25. Pppfffftttt. So much for that idea – 25 has come and gone… in a blink of an eye.
I’m sure there isn’t a person out there who hasn’t felt the breath of fresh air, proverbial or real, of gaining some freedom, more independence and finding *her footing. *Note: So in grammar there is a debate about using s/he or his/her, etc., in order to address the different sexes without breaking grammar rules (using they or their when really you mean a single person but are trying to avoid assigning a sex). I’ve decided for simplicity to just use her/she, etc., as I’m a woman, but please feel free to use him/his/he as it may apply.
So back to my point – I think I really first felt free and independent when I drove to band practice by myself for the first time. Everyone could see me in the car… by myself. Well, okay maybe barely see me past the steering wheel… I’m very short remember. My dad has taken the liberty of reminding me of how “funny” it is to watch me drive away because it looks like the car must be on auto pilot as no one is in the driver’s seat. He really laughed one time when I drove away with my friend Emily in the passenger seat… she’s only a couple inches taller than me and no one appeared to be in the vehicle. I could see him dying of laughter in my rearview mirror. I couldn’t figure out what was so funny.
Can there be any greater sense of freedom than knowing you can come and go, virtually, as you please when you’re 16, have your own car and your license? I drove all over the rest of that summer. I would get “lost” but not really, just to be able to find my way again. It was the best way to learn the area. The more I practiced, the better I became as a driver but also as a navigator. My sense of direction became much better. I was no longer dependent upon someone else to take me to practice or later on, to work. I could take myself to school or pick up friends. That was really fun. The more I drove, the more freedom I gained.
My driver’s license and my car have truly been the greatest assets to me personally. The times when I gained the most independence, came with being able to drive away in my car – going to practices, going to school, starting college, moving away to Salida, Colo., for my first reporting job and finally, moving here to Needles, Calif. I gained a ton of freedom and independence on that drive, but that’s for another story.
So here I leave you with “Breakaway” – a song about gaining freedom, leaving family and friends behind to find oneself in the great beyond. A hard move, but necessary to learn about oneself.