Monday, March 21, 2016

Taking the Wheel

If you've never had a panic attack while driving,
     never rolled down the window when you broke out in a sweat on an icy day,
     never hyperventilated while trapped in traffic,
     never taken the nearest exit just to get off the highway,
     never told yourself, "Just breathe"...

You may not be able to imagine the invigorating joy
     of finding yourself on the freeway
     going 65+ mph,
     crossing the city
     in the middle lane
     after dark,
 And realizing you never even thought about it.

If you bought a car before college,
     or drove cross-country alone,
I invite you to picture the freedom
Of making your longest solo roadtrip ever
At forty years old.
Consulting maps or GPS,
Stopping at rest areas at your own whim,
Pumping gas at unfamiliar crossroads,
Eating when and where you like,
Sitting at the wheel till you find mountains.

In recent months,
My magic carpet
Has carried me
To cities in four states--
To learn new things,
To meet friends and make them,
To laugh, and dance,
To eat and drink,
To share moments of life with people I like,
To soak up fresh ideas.

And all the way back:
Feelings to process,
Music to pulse to,
Landscapes to savor,
Memories to live again and again.
As the miles roll by,
Even the prairie
I thought frighteningly raw
Unbares its wild beauty.

Back at my beginning,
Kisses and hugs and tales to share.
Puppy leaps for joy and licks me.
Stories of fun while apart
Show how my role's evolved,
My family's dependence
Not less,
But less palpable.
They feed themselves,
Work, and rest, and play.
Yet my return,
Unpacking my adventures,
Makes home feel right again.

We each have changed,
Defined ourselves
And gained experience.
And best of all?
Anxiety didn't ride along.