“If you give this man a ride, sweet memory will die.”
– Riders on the Storm, The Doors
One night when I was fifteen or sixteen, Rachael had come over to hang out at my house and my mom let me drive her home. I had my driver’s permit, so the three of us piled into the old Honda and headed towards Kirkwood.
It was a beautiful spring night, so we had the sunroof and all of the windows open. I was wearing flip flops, so I was practically barefoot, just the way I like it. This was the year I discovered the “Dead at 27” club, so we were grooving to The Doors. I was driving down West Adams, which is this long windy road that goes through the woods alongside a big creek – about as close to country driving as you can get in the county.
Everything was so perfect and relaxing and – as I thought in my adolescent mind – cool. And I remember thinking, “When I get my license, I want to do this ALL THE TIME. This is AWESOME.”
Rachael lived very close to where I live now, and we used to ride our bikes past this building all the time. There were always people barbecuing and hanging out on the porches. When I was little, I thought all these swinging college kids and young adults lived there and they had parties every day and it must be the raddest place ever.
Tonight I was driving home from the hospital in my Honda. It was a gorgeous breezy spring day. I kicked off my heels and drove barefoot with the sunroof open. “Riders On The Storm” started playing on the radio. I drove down West Adams with the wind blowing and Jim Morrison crooning, towards that building that used to fascinate me so much.
And it hit me – I was doing exactly what I wanted to do, at least for a while when I was younger. I take that road home every single day. I live in the building that I thought was so glamourous and cool. Sure, most days aren’t that pretty. My neighbors are older and give me cookies instead of margaritas. I don’t actively listen to The Doors. But tonight – tonight it was perfect.
I used to have this boyfriend who always told me that I would never be happy if I stayed in St. Louis. He told me that my dreams would come true somewhere else, and he was so worried about what would happen if I never left. He used to rip on my city (and the Midwest, and so many places he had never even seen) so much, and at the time I hadn’t explored my home enough to show him why it was so perfect in spite of its faults. I thought he would rescue me from whatever he was so afraid of. When you’re in love, you believe they know what’s best for you without question.
Which is better: having big dreams and lofty goals that you will never achieve, or simple dreams and small wishes that one day come true? I suppose it could be argued either way.
But every day… every single day for the last two years, I live out at least some version of that childhood fantasy that I had forgotten about until just now. I think that’s pretty remarkable, and I’m a bit overwhelmed by how lucky I feel to be exactly where I am.