The prompt I chose this week: Define "freedom" (inspired by NaBloPoMo).
First, these very grownup impediments to freedom: Necessity, obligation, consequence, responsibility - how those concepts weigh us down.
Or do they keep us grounded? Discuss amongst yourselves.
I can think of distinct ages in my life when freedom was a possibility:
Childhood, where you have some freedom to explore your neighborhood, unlike the kids of today - they'd never be able to run and play with other kids unless a play date was scheduled. Yet then again, your every move is monitored and measured against other children/the norm/the family rules/the school system. Not much freedom to be had there.
Adolescence, where freedom is so close you can taste its sweetness. When friends and boyfriends have more importance than family. In reality, you have LESS freedom, as you try to conform within your social group - and less freedom when your boyfriend wants to monopolize your time. Yet we welcome THEIR intrusion, all the while railing against the parental authority.
Adulthood, when you expect real freedom - and get college schedules and student loans and lousy jobs (while still in the throes of the influence of peers and paramours)...again, freedom is elusive.
Then, the biggest freedom sucker of all - parenthood. When your life is no longer your own. Anyone within earshot of a child knows that you don't have freedom of speech, unless you want your offspring "sharing" your speech with others!
Parenthood is when you become selfless and need and want to account for the well-being and happiness of your little cherubs - and your only free time is when you sneak off to the bathroom all by yourself. I've been in the parent stage for 34 years now, and I'm not done.
I suppose the next shot at freedom is the empty nest...at least, that's what I'm gonna continue to tell myself.
Anyway, I was free, now and again... I'm ten years old. A beautiful sunny autumn day, enjoying the sensory banquet provided by the leaves that have fallen off the trees. I have no homework. My mom isn't home from work yet, so I am not being harangued into servitude for the family.
There stands my bicycle. A blue and white 24-inch Firestone with chrome bumpers. Basket on the front, great for lugging piano books and purchases from the convenience store. I even had a headlight/taillight combo, complete with a generator that worked on pedal power.
And I have no piano lesson or Girl Scout meeting or any other impediment to just being a kid.
Pedaling through my neighborhood, feeling the wind blow through my hair as I pass one friend's house, then another. No destination in mind. No timetable. No deadline. Just me, the bike and the road.
I hear my breathing, the sound of the tires on the pavement, and the fleeting sounds of families and dogs as I pass by. Cars pass me - I am a careful rider - I give drivers a wide berth (unless I want to practice skidding - then all bets are off).
Some of the streets I rode on most often - Newport, Westland, Cambridge, Canterbury, Ridgefield, Blackridge, St. Andrews, New Haven. I might stop at the Speed-E Mart for a Coke slush and a Reese's peanut butter cup (I think I could get both with about 30 cents in my pocket).
Until I saw my mom's car coming from the opposite direction, its grill smirking at me, telling me my freedom had come to an end...until next time.