24 January 2012
If only I could still drive the BARBIE JEEP!
Ring! Ring! My attention turns from the cartoons I am engaged in as I hear the doorbell sound. I run to my room and grab my baby doll by her arm and swing a diaper bag over my shoulder as fast as possible. Then, I sprint down the stairs to the door to greet my best friend, Kelsey Wood, who, like me is six years old. I hug my mom as I walk past her and prance out of the door, holding Kelsey’s hand tightly. Her beautiful pink and purple Barbie car awaits us in the drive way. The car’s bright purple tires glisten in the sun. Oh, how I love the colors! The car merely stands three feet tall, the perfect size for us.
As we approach the car, we toss our dolls in the back compartment of the car and I put my diaper bag behind them. Kelsey hops in the driver’s seat and I climb in as her passenger. We do this naturally, without discussion, as it has become a daily ritual. Seat belts are strapped across our chest and Kelsey turns the key to start the engine. Our perfect baby car is ready to hit the road.
The cool morning breeze blows our shiny hair back behind our faces. Smiles illuminate our faces as we head down the street away from our houses. I turn to Kelsey, who is focusing on the road ahead and ask, “Where are we headed today?” She pulses for a second and responds, “I was going to ask you the same thing.” We laugh at each other because we both know we are only allowed to go to the end of our street and back. But, our imaginations get the best of us and we pretend we can go anywhere we want. We spend hours laughing, talking, and riding in our perfect Barbie Jeep. What a perfect day!
Now as I look back, I vividly remember the Barbie Jeep and the joy that filled my life on those summer days. The Barbie Jeep allowed me to explore the meaning of true freedom through what I would call me first car. Although we were limited to one street, my best friend and I were able to decide where we were going and what we were going to do. We were in control!
My enthusiasm for the freedom and control acquired through driving was quickly demolished the day I nearly totaled my mom’s SAAB convertible. It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon in November and my parents had allowed me to drive my mom’s car since mine was in the shop. I was ecstatic because the SAAB was exceptionally better looking and certainly more exciting to drive than my Ford Explorer. Before I left that day, my dad gave me the keys and said, “Make sure you don’t mess up the wheels.” I told him I wouldn’t and left for work.
The drive to work was like any ordinary day. However, the drive home from work was an entirely different story. I was driving on Mason-Montgomery Road, a road that I had driven on numerous times. Traffic had picked up significantly since I had gone into work. The light up ahead was green and cars where quickly passing through the main intersection. So I speedily followed... a little too close. Before I knew it, my foot slammed the break pedal to the floor and the front end of the car was crashing into the red car in front of me at full speed. I shut my eyes and screamed.
Seconds later, I opened my eyes to the music blasting into my ears. Out of the window I saw the hood of the car in the shape of an accordion. Streams of tears began to trickle down my face as reality set in. Cars were flying by me and I had no idea what to do. A considerate pedestrian saw the accident and came to help me. The events that followed that day have since become a blur to me. I think this is because I do not want to remember all the details of the cops questioning me, my parent’s shock, and my own disappointment in myself.
From that day on, driving has not been the same for me. I do not drive for freedom or enjoyment anymore. I drive to make my life easier. I wish I could still jump in my car with the excitement that was once almost impossible to contain. But, the freedom and joy of driving as a young adult will never compare to the summer days I spent with my best friend in her beautiful Barbie Jeep.