I’ve heard all my life that freedom isn’t free. I always applied this in the civil liberties context. My dad served 3 tours in Vietnam (3!) and the scars he came back with made it so very clear that securing the American way of life comes at a tremendous cost. I never expected to apply the saying to the context of a marriage.
A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine bought a Porsche Cayman. It’s a two-seater rocket-type of car that no married with children woman drives, ever. As soon as my friend bought it, I asked him if I could drive it next time I saw him. Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.” I immediately told my husband that I was going to get to drive this ultra-cool car and he brushed me off. I maintained my excitement for the next three weeks until the day actually arrived that my friend and I were both in the same town. We made plans to meet up and I told my husband I was off to drive the car.
Imagine my surprise when my husband looked at me, then walked away without a word. I thought maybe he was teasing me about being angry, so I kissed the kids and off I went. I didn’t really think much of it, to be honest. I met up with my friend at his home where he had the car waiting. He backed it out of the garage (so I didn’t have to worry about the shrubbery he said) and then switched spots with me. I was so nervous I was shaking.
In my experience, many men are backseat drivers. Or, they are overly protective of their cars. They believe they are the superior drivers over women. As I gingerly backed out of the driveway and got going, my friend said, “You don’t have to shift so soon. Rev the engine up.” Say what? Surely I wasn’t hearing correctly. But, yes. So, I let the engine wind a little more before shifting to the next gear. “Are you driving a Honda?” He says. “Let go!”
As soon as I ease my way out of his neighborhood, I am on a familiar, open country road. The windows of the Porsche are down on a sunny spring day, there is quasi-techno music reverberating through the car, and the engine is growling all around me. The Cayman is a noisy beast and I want to give in. So I do. I let the car fly.
I punch it and move quickly through first and second gears. The car picks up speed tremendously quickly and my hair is whipping around in the wind. My smile is so wide, I feel like my face was ready to split in half. As I let the car move through third with the gas punched down, my friend says, “That’s it! This car wants to go fast. You can let go!”
And I do. I’m up to fifth gear when I realize the speedometer clocks in almost at 90. My friend is issuing words of approval and I laugh as I speed down the road. The powerful car is responding to my every touch, the music is soaring through me and I feel free. I’m not worried about my kids, my health, my husband, my marriage, my finances. My friend is telling me to let go, to do what I want to do. He’s egging me on to have fun and to fly. And all I can think is that I’m free.
When I return home to my husband and kids a couple hours later, a feeling of contentment is floating through me. I feel euphoric and so very happy. I am on top of the world. I seek out my husband to tell him my experiences with the car, and how exhilarating it was. When I approach him, he will barely look at me. When I try to talk to him, he cuts me off. “You know that’s my favorite car,” he says. “I can’t believe you drove it and I didn’t.”
Hurt ricochets through me as I realize the person who is supposed to support me and love me has let his jealousy get in the way of our friendship. I’m reminded once again that freedom really isn’t free.