I have always loved to drive fast. I don't really like going fast in a car that someone else is driving, but if I'm behind the wheel, sometimes I can't go fast enough. As I've aged, I've worked on this and don't speed anymore, but it's a constant struggle, and I'm very grateful for cruise control. It's been training me to drive the limit instead of pushing it to the limit. My second long-term partner used to tell me that he had nightmares about me dying in a fiery car crash. I'm not sure that's true, but it was enough to get me thinking about it. My third and current partner, drives slowly. At first, it made me crazy, especially if we were caravanning. But, now I've come to appreciate it. I enjoy seeing the sights as I drive by whereas before, the sights whizzed by like a blur.
I now have a long commute to and from work and do a lot of thinking in the car. I realized recently that, not only did I always drive fast, I always felt the urge to be going somewhere else. It was hard for me to stay put for long. I must have been seeking something better and have been doing that for as long as I can remember. I'm also very spontaneous, trusting my instincts to take me along the best route. What this means is that I often get waylaid. I'll be on my way home when I suddenly feel a pull to turn down a new road and find myself meandering, arriving home much later than expected. Luckily, my partner understands and expects that spontaneity knowing that, if I'm going to be terribly late, I'll call him so he doesn't worry.
I've wondered a lot lately about why I've felt that urgent need for speed and travel. I'm pretty sure it started because I wanted to escape from the abuse at home. As a child, when the family was on the road, things were usually much better. There were no beatings on vacations or visits to family. My brother and I weren't screamed at or demeaned in public. So, why wouldn't I want to be out and about as often as possible. I used to wonder why my brother didn't have that same desire to escape, but he was our mom's favorite and wanted to be home all the time. A newspaper reporter, our dad had to travel to political meetings or to cover stories. I was his favorite, so of course I wanted to go with him. With Mom not around, Dad and I always got along very well. He also visited his parents without Mom sometimes. She hated Dad's mother and looked for any excuse not to go. That meant that I had Dad all to myself for a weekend. Much later, when I was working full-time, we rode to work together each day and got very close, getting to know each other in a new way.
As a parent myself, I found that sticking my kids in the car to go for a ride was the best way to have conversations with them, especially if the conversations were potentially uncomfortable. They were captive in the car, unable to escape when things got heated. Luckily, they all liked travel and were eager to have one-on-one time with me. I don't know if they realized that the ride offers were ploys, but they never turned me down.
Because I grew up in an abusive situation, I accepted abuse in my love relationships more readily than I should have. I guess I just didn't know better. I went with what was familiar, and once again, my car was my safe haven. When I was on the road, no one yelled, put me down or threw things across the room. Three times I left those situations then finally decided that I would live alone. I didn't trust myself to choose another partner wisely, but luckily, this time I did. I was very cautious and more than a little skittish, but he eventually won me over.
Although I was loved before, much more than I would ever have imagined given everyone's behaviors, I wasn't shown that love. I only found out how much each of my two partners cared after I left and my parents after they died. These same parents, who never came to a show, never asked about my music (the most important thing in my life, next to my children and grandchildren), never praised me or even acknowledged my musical abilities and often tried to convince me to follow a different path, played old cassette tapes of me singing for their friends, bragging about my talents. I wish I had known while they were still alive but only found out about it at their funerals.
Now, for the first time, I am openly admired and cared for. There is no question about whether or not I am loved. I see it everyday and am treated better than I ever thought was possible. I finally have the freedom and courage to come out of my hiding place. I can stop trying to run away. I no longer feel the pull to constantly go out and be in public. I'm happy to be at home. It's safe and peaceful. I can be myself without worrying about triggering someone's anger or jealousy. I still love travel and sometimes still have to rein in my desire to drive fast, but it's no longer an obsession. Now, I travel for pleasure, not escape, and I usually can't wait to come back home - a change I never thought I'd see.