When I first learned to drive I felt as if I had grown wings. I flew down the roads of rural and suburban Western Michigan like a gas powered Icarus, always approaching—but never reaching—freedom. The little Toyota Corolla has always felt safest on the more scenic routes. Take it to the highway and it starts to shudder. Sometimes it makes me wonder if my wings could just fly off while I’m driving, leaving me naked and embarrassed on the interstate.
I first experienced speed-freedom a couple of weeks into learning how to ride a bike. The first weeks I experienced more pavement than anything else, but once I became comfortable on the seat, I rode up and down the street in front of our home in Manchester, New Hampshire. When my parents were satisfied that I could pedal around safely enough, I biked around the block for the first time. “Around the block” really meant down the sidewalk, take a right, take another right and go until you reach the dead end—the house of my best friend. From there I could bike across his lawn into our back lawn, around our gardens and swingset, and then arrive back home. Even with my newfound freedom, home was always the final destination.