I'm sitting in a hotel room in Arlington, Texas, by a window overlooking a closed amusement park. It took six hours to drive here today, and at the last minute, I veered from my directions skirting Dallas and instead drove right through its heart. Dallas is notorious for its heavy, mad traffic and jumbled, confusing exchanges, and I wanted to prove I could still handle it. I never used to blink at racing along in fast traffic on major city roads, and I wanted to feel like the person I was before I got so damn old and responsible and soft. Keeping pace with the high speeds, navigating fearlessly, slipping into the groove of the commuter rush: it was euphoric.
That was my life almost ten years ago, tearing down the highways around the Bay Area, free, bold, answering to no one. The person I was then didn't make meal plans and to-do lists. She had all the time in the world, and her choice of how to spend it.
Just as I was reveling in my invincibility, a song came on the radio that made me miss my boys. It wasn't a sweet, childish song, of course; they have their dad to inform their musical taste. It was Bulletproof by La Roux. Paolo knows every word, knows the song well enough to make up alternate goofy lyrics, and Luca belts out the chorus. Bulletproof, hah! At this point in my life, I couldn't be more vulnerable. I no longer exist in exclusivity; my husband and children are part of me. I am saddled with demands, stretched thin, and chained tight, because I am loved. I do not long for the days when no one waited to hear I had arrived safely.
When I'm away from home, sitting in an empty hotel room, she's so close to me, the person I was. Sometimes I like to check in with her, to step back into the stream of a faster, more reckless life, to feel young and unencumbered, but these are moments of nostalgia, not regret. Living without a net or an anchor is no way to spend your whole life, and I knew that ten years ago with the sunroof open, music screaming, going 80 down the highway.