I have been teaching my 16-year-old son how to drive. He is a confident young man and his driving reflects that. One hand on the steering wheel, the other relaxed and gesturing as he speaks, I am somehow pulled into his easy conversation. He is a good driver. My body, which has had to learn how to breathe while he is driving, releases into the ride. I trust him. I trust my friend who drives a sports car a little too fast, but with a love for the curves of the road, the trees flashing by, the bumps that send us up for a moment, and our movement through the world. I am learning how to lean into this life.
I had already let go of the tightly woven safety
found in car seats and seat belts. So used
to relying on the security of metal locking
to metal, unbreakable fabric, foam cushioning,
that to trust the blood and muscle human
being driving the car felt daring. But
trusting all the other drivers on the road,
speeding and weaving, was surely foolish.
The rules of this world, half a world from home,
were different, and the children loved the
comfort of sitting on our laps while riding
through the busy streets. They trusted us
to hold tight to them. Should we not do the same?
We drove past entire families holding on
to one central driving figure, all balanced
on a small motorbike. The two wheels,
the buzzing motor, were just a tool. The
family, arms linked around waists, toddlers
sandwiched between, was the movement,
the pulsing, the life.
I remembered the thrill of the ride:
visiting Thailand as a child and riding
on the front of Little Uncle’s Vespa. My
feet on the narrow platform in front of
Uncle, standing up while he reached
around to hold the handlebars. I learned
to sway with the motion of the bike, to
lean when it turned. We were connected
to the city, part of the dance, part of
the circulatory system, curving
through veins of traffic.
One night, after dinner, we took a
tuk-tuk back to the hotel. All four
of us squeezed into the bench seat,
sticky skin to skin. The driver was fast,
swerving past traffic, leaning, pulling
us through. Quickly we learned to
sway with the motion of the tuk-tuk,
to not resist the movement. Connected
to the driver powering us to our beds
after a long day, we moved with him,
doing as he told us to do with each
turn. We trusted him. We felt safe.
I saw the peaceful knowing on my boys’
faces, and I understood what they knew.