one benefit of this insane week has been that i've had a rental car at my disposal. as much as i love walking, metro trains and the urban lifestyle, there is precious little in my life that i enjoy more than getting behind the wheel of a car. i've had a license for 13 years; this is the second extended stretch of time over that entire period that's found me carless.
the first time, i was a freshman in undergrad, seventeen years old, and living in a teeny little mountain town in virginia. alone for the first time, i thought i had everything well in hand. but then the walls of the teeny little mountain town started to close in on me. my world, which had never really been that big (i mean, there's only so much you can see in small-city alabama in the mid- to late-1990s), suddenly shrank to about three miles square. and there was no. way. out. i was stuck. every little problem became massive, and with my adolescent coping skills being, well, stunted beyond all belief, i reacted about as well as you'd expect: i freaked out.
so here i sit again, on the other side of over a decade of life experience, carless. this time it's different; i'm old enough to attain several means of escape, and i have a tight web of close friends and family to support me should i freak out again. but tonight, i took to the roads of my city, cruising around with no real agenda. i let my mind wander far and wide (the results of this wandering, by the way, will be seen later on this week; i'm brewing up a nice writing project which will debut here in pieces in august), and it was simply heaven. i've always thought so well while driving. it's one of the few places in my life where i know i can think clearly and without interruption. i used to go on long drives with my cell turned off. there was a freedom in being completely unreachable.
behind the wheel, you are 100% free to do whatever you want. i realized driving back last night that, if i so desired, i could have gone anywhere i wanted. there was nothing holding me back. in my new life, i miss that feeling. it's one to be savored.