Speech. Assemble. Religion. Press. Petition. The Constitution is pretty front loaded when it comes to the rights it grants to the citizens of this country. It's a document that gives us the right to bare arms, as well as the right to debate about what that means. It gives us the right to an attorney, and the protection from cruel and unusual punishment in case that attorney isn't particularly good. The Bill of Rights is an impressive work, and that's just part of the constitution.
This is not about any of that. What I'd like to write about is a bit more abstract, a bit more romantic. What I'd like to discuss here is the freedom of movement.
When I was in high school, I took drivers eduction like most teens did. And although I passed the class and got my license, I didn't really take to the driving thing. I never had that experience of having my father teach me how to drive the family vehicle, and even though I passed the class, I didn't rush out and get a car. Instead I bummed rides from my friends, all the way through high school, all the way through college.
I graduated, finally, and degree in hand I got myself job. The job came with weird hours, and weird hours meant having to get a vehicle of my own. So my Dad, the saint he is, got me a pick up truck. I was nervous at first, just driving down the street I lived. In time I got used to it, and before long I wasn't just driving to work, I was driving all over the place.
There was something there that clicked in my brain, finally, after years of not understanding: having a vehicle isn't a right, but once you have one, few things are as great as the freedom of movement that it gives you.
You rarely think about it, but the right to travel from state to state by vehicle is a pretty great thing. There may be borders and boundaries, but it's safe to say that if you have a vehicle and there's a public road, you can drive on it. You can go from the tip of Florida to the Space Needle without once stopping at a state border, just to have things checked out. I think that's pretty incredible.
But it's more than that. Recently, I had some troubles with my truck and I had to put it in the shop. While it was only a little while, my disappointment with the situation didn't have to do with trying to figure out how to get to work, or how much it was going to cost me to get things repaired. It was knowing I was going to have to sit at home, unable to go anywhere at my leisure. And it made me think and appreciate some of the sillier things in life, and the great things that come with driving: It's those corny feelings of the wind in your hair on a nice spring day. It's being able to drive somewhere in a few hours that would have taken days by horseback. It's about being able to save Thanksgiving dinner because someone forgot to pick up something at the store.
I get where some people might find the downsides of driving. No one likes sitting in traffic. No one really enjoys waiting for a train to go by. Bad drivers can make anyones day just a little worse. And while these things may frustrate me in the short term, it's all worth it for good drives and the right moments.
And it's these things I love: 1. The freedom to not be stuck at home alone on a Friday night. 2. The freedom to drop everything to drive out of town to go see your favorite band. 3. The freedom to be out on the road with the one you love, under the stars, and getting away from it all.
Those nights when I'm sad, or lonely, or just wanting to get out for a bit, I'll get in my truck, and I'll hit the road. I'll drive to Bloomington and see what this "Port of Victoria" really is. I'll drive to Kennedy just to look for interesting things to take photographs of. I'll wander the back roads, chasing thunderstorms or shooting stars or just wondering where the next turn goes. Sure, my truck was only gone for a little bit, but that didn't mean I wasn't wish, just a tiny bit, that I could go out and hit the road.
And so I celebrate getting getting my truck back by driving through the park, by going to get dinner, by going out to write. Because these are things that I enjoy doing, and because as an upstanding citizen, I have the freedom to do so.
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