Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Free Fall

Yesterday, on the way to drop Sydney off, Tom Petty's "Free Falling" came on the radio. The song's opening bars never fail to engage me: the slow, measured thrumming of a guitar, a sonic tease, giving way to Petty's signature whine. She's a gooood girl/loves her mama/loves Jesus/and America too. I love the song for so many reasons, not the least of which because it speaks to that part of me that yearns endlessly for freedom, for escape, from whatever, whomever, whenever. I always, always pull a Jerry Maguire when I hear the song; I crank up the volume and scream to no one in particular that I'm gonna free fall/out into nothing/gonna leave this world for a while with the windows rolled down completely and, before I kicked the habit, a lit cigarette in my non-steering hand.

Although I no longer reach for a cigarette in moments such as these, the urge to give myself over to the experience remains. To free fall, or rock the casbah, or ramble on, or--my personal, absolute favorite--to join Mick Jagger in protesting that I will never, never be your beast of burden. Yet opportunities such as this are hard to come by these days. As was the case yesterday morning, I am often prevented from entering into this most assured bliss by the tiny, impressionable little person seated behind me. Sydney may enjoy a good Mardi Gras Mambo, but I suspect that forcing her to endure the sight of her mother rocking out to tune after sodding tune, at top volume, with the windows rolled completely down (no cigarette though, no cigarette), would qualify as totally bad parenting. And so I refrain.

Tom Petty sings about the exhilaration of personal freedom, and I squelch my own desires in the face of my responsibility to another. The irony is obvious.

A quick caveat: I l-o-v-e being a mother. No regrets, here. But with the decision to have a child came an extraordinary amount of sacrifices--not just the obvious sacrifices, like time and sleep and the ability to read sad books involving children without dissolving into a mass of anxiety and fear, but the more subtle and insidious things like this: like the constant squelching, the muting of desire, the scattering of self, the abdication of personal freedom.

I have always been a mover, a nomad, an explorer, a seeker. My birthday falls smack in the middle of Sagittarius country, and though I would not profess to believe squarely in the stuff, my astrological sign seems to summarize fairly well the more distinct facets of my personality (except, of course, the bit about Sags being opinionated, stubborn, and judgmental; that is patently ridiculous):
  • Traveling
  • getting to the heart of the matter
  • Freedom
  • Laws and meanings
  • the general 'feel' of things
  • Off the wall theories
  • being tied down domestically
  • Being constrained
  • cooling your heels
  • bothered with details
Do I value traveling, and freedom, and 'getting to the heart of the matter?' Well, sure. Absolutely. That is me in a nutshell. And do I dislike being 'tied down domestically?' Do I strain against the bonds of married life, of motherhood? Do I stifle the urge to flee, to move somewhere, anywhere, else? Do I find myself watching shows like Lost and thinking gee, that looks nice, I'd like to wake up on a remote island far, far away from anything and spend my days foraging for coconuts and investigating the mysterious Others? Do I visit the websites of towns I know I will probably never have the opportunity to visit and dream of an unencumbered life? Do I dislike being constrained?

Absolutely not! I mean, what kind of person would that make me?


Anonymous said...

Oh My Gosh!! I love Beast of Burden too!!!!!!!!


Leigh C. said...

I blast music all the time and roll down the windows. Even the little guy has taken to telling me to turn it up when I try to keep it to a level that isn't gonna blast his eardrums.

Problem is, I'm taking to listening to more and more music with cussing in it, probably as a reaction to the fact that I really can't cuss much around my son - especially Ben Folds' music. I hide it when my son is around, but one of these days, when he's a godforsaken neocon, he will find the "Parental Advisory"-marked CDs and berate me for my lack of role-model-mindedness.

Yep, I'm a horrible mama. Call CPS on my sorry butt.