And Tom Cochrane’s “Life Is a Highway” is on the radio.
My children are in the backseat of our dinged-up 2005 Honda Accord. As I turn up the song, I call out to them, telling them that they know this song. Thanks to the movie Cars, which I loved by the way, every kid knows the song. I don’t wait for their responses and keep turning the volume higher.
With the car radio cranked up to 20 and me hitting 45 in a 35 mile per hour zone, I’m about as far on the edge as my middle-aged self can go.
But I want to hit the gas. I want to blast the radio higher.
It’s 1992. I’m a senior in college at Penn State. It’s a brilliant March day. The end of the term is less than two months away. I have no job prospects.
And I don’t care.
Weeks before, I blew off an interview for a career job. Didn’t want the job. Didn’t know what I wanted.
All I know is I feel young. I feel hope. I feel possibilities.
I also feel uncertainty. But I don’t care.
Nothing seems all that important. I have the greatest gift of all. I have time.
Everything will happen—eventually.
Life is a highway
I wanna ride it all night long
My friend, S, insists on a motorcycle drive. I have neither a motorcycle nor the required license to drive one. We drive out to where he has his motorcycle stored.
I hop on the back of the motorcycle. I hold on to the straps as we pull off a gravel road.
We’re off campus and in the mountains of Central Pennsylvania. No cars are in sight.
He pushes the gas, and the motorcycle hits the next gear.
Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting on the ground luxuriating in the sun. The ride has both calmed and excited us. We sip on Cokes and talk about dreams. The only thing that’s certain is we’ll be somewhere else come June.
The now familiar intro to “Life Is a Highway” comes out of the boombox. I turn up my current favorite song.
Life’s like a road that you travel on
When there’s one day here and the next day gone
And so the day goes.
Laughs, a ride, and back to campus.
“It’s too loud,” SJ, my 8-year-old, is complaining.
“Please turn it down. It’s too loud.”
“But you like that song, right?”
“It sounds different.”
I’m ready to explain to him that the Cars version was toned down a bit and was sung by a different person. I could launch into commercialism.
“Yeah, it is a bit different.” I turn around and smile at SJ and glance over at BR who is holding his ears.
I turn down the radio to our usual number 8 and slow the car to the posted speed limit.
I feel the heat of the sun and smile.
After a sigh, my mind wanders again. A list of responsibilities formulates: help the boys with homework, make dinner, send out queries, exercise, do the dishes, make the boys a snack, and put the boys to bed. There is much to be done.
And so little time.
I race the car again. My children and I need to get home.
Life is a highway
I want to ride it all night long
If you’re going my way
I want to drive it all night long
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