“Remember to be safe, okay?” Andy leaned over and kissed me in the dark at 4:30am.
He was on his way to work, I was laying in bed for another hour or so, before getting up, getting the boys to school, and then heading out on a seven hour road trip with Gigi.
Remembering to be safe is a funny request.
Safety isn’t a passing thought, it’s all I think about. It consumes me.
I fly alone the majority of the time. This summer I drove to Maryland with just the kids, and spent last weekend in rural Kentucky without Andy, as well.
I am so proud of this. I grew up and spent the majority of my 20’s as a willfully codependent person.
The need for independence came as a surprise to me, but I quickly embraced the concept of choice.
I am not stuck here, if I don’t want to be.
I don’t have to be married, I want to be.
I am a capable person, who can do exciting things by herself.
This isn’t a message I got as a girl in a rural town. I don’t think it’s a message a lot of girls get, anywhere.
I can explore, create, jump, fall- whatever– when and if I want to, because my participation in life no longer requires someone who I feel is more competent or stronger than I am.
I am my own strong one. I am my own person that’s smart enough to figure this out. I am my own adult in the room.
The problem is that the whole Spice Girls anthem that I wrote about up there is grossly overshadowed by fear.
Not fear to do any of these things, fear of coming back from doing those things for reasons that have nothing to do with me or my abilities.
It’s the fear I felt when the gas station attendant pointed to a long, poorly lit hallway behind a giant ice case when I asked where the bathroom was.
It’s the unease with going to movies by myself.
It’s why I no longer jog or mountain bike alone, and when I do go with someone, I don’t put in my earbuds.
It’s known fear that makes me check underneath my care when I’m walking up to it in a parking lot, and thanks to M. Night Shyamalan’s creepfest movie, Split, the moment I jump inside, I bark at the kids to shut the doors and I immediately hit the lock button.
I find this always makes the people outside my car suddenly very insecure about how they present themselves in parking lots.
It’s okay, fellow human, I’m sure you aren’t the creepy person being talked about in that Facebook post my aunt keeps sharing on my wall about that thing that happened to their neighbor’s friend’s daughter in the aisle of that one store, but you can never been too sure.
My drive down to Kentucky last weekend was hard. I left the confines of I-75, and found myself on more local roads than I was used to. Some gravel. Some unlit. Part of me fell so hard in love with the beauty of the state. The changing trees and hills were like postcards. And then I had the other half praying, please don’t get a flat tire, you’ll be too vulnerable here in the dark. Your cellphone has one bar of service. This is a new car and you have nothing in here that could be used as a weapon.
When we finally reached the hotel, Gigi and I changed into warm, dry clothes and piled into bed with our leftover road trip snacks.
I called Andy to let him know we were in for the night, and recount our trip in a continuous manner without suddenly screaming, “FUCK I HAVE TO GO I NEED MY CAR GPS STOP TALKING BYE.”
“Any issues?” He asked.
“Nope, none.” I assured him, outside of the one McDonald’s I went to not having good ice, or why every gas station I stopped at only had grape blow pops left, and no other flavors.
“The public has spoken, and grape is the worst, why wouldn’t they put other flavors out there, they’re losing money.” I explained.
Andy ignored the rant and asked, “were you careful and everything the whole way down?”
“Yes.” I promised. “The two male hitchhikers I picked up just outside of Ohio acted as a deterrent to the murderers for the majority of the drive.” I sighed into the phone.
I was annoyed.
I am not sure why I was so annoyed with him being concerned about this very real issue that people he loved was facing, but I was.
It was the same type of annoyed I got when I told a friend I needed a hysterectomy, and they asked me if I’d ever talked to my doctor about birth control.
“Gosh, I hadn’t thought to see a doctor about this.” I stared at them.
I was annoyed with Andy because my safety has nothing to do with me. That is actually the scariest part.
That and the fact that outside of moving to Wonder Woman island, I have no immediate solution for this for me, or my daughter.
It’s why when he kissed my head in the dark before we left, reminded me to be safe, and slipped out the door, I just smiled back and say, “okay.”
The “okay” was for him, and his feelings about needing me to be safe.
The “okay” does nothing for me.
Instead of explaining that to him, in horrifying THIS IS WHY GIRLS TRAVEL IN PACKS detail, I promise to be super cautious coming home, and close with an “I love you,” and a prayer for cherry blow pops in the morning when I fill up my tank.
“Don’t worry about the suckers, just get home safe, okay?” He sighs.