Thursday, July 06, 2006

Experiencing Life's "Wide Open Spaces"

There are certain moments in your life that you always remember, no matter how small or trivial they seemed at the time. And, in looking back on some of the moments I remember so clearly as turning points in my life, I have realized something. That is, while I don't have many big traumatic, soap-operatic stories in my past, the moments I know that my heart changed forever are stamped in my mind as clearly as the day they happened. And, also that I wouldn't trade these stamps in time for anything.

When I first heard the Dixie Chicks song, Wide Open Spaces, I was pregnant with my first child and living in another city. I was still working, and struggling with the realization that I would be quitting that job soon and changing life as I knew it. I was in the fortunate position of being able to stay home with my son, but it meant leaving my life in the working world behind--a life that I'd consumed myself with for all my adulthood. And, it was scary to think about making that change. My job was my security blanket and where I had the most self confidence, and it always had been. We had not lived in that city very long, so it was also where every friend I had in the world worked too. What would I do with myself once I left it all behind?

As I listened to the words to Wide Open Spaces, I tapped my already round tummy and felt my son kick back. The song seemed to take my mind away to an early moment of change in my life. And, as a tear ran down my smiling cheek, I reveled in the flashback of that day.

I had grown up in a very small Texas town filled with friends I had known my entire life. My friends were children of my parents' friends and my world was wrapped up in that place. Most of my classmates ended up staying in our hometown, either saying they wanted to live there or possibly realizing that they didn't have the means to go to college or that they were unwilling to risk moving somewhere else--someplace away from the only world that they had known all their lives. All these years later, I understand too that some of my peers probably never even imagined living anywhere other than where we did as children because no one ever told them they could do any differently than their parents and grandparents had done before them.

There were a handful of kids in my graduating class who did move on. Two went to Westpoint Academy and several of us went to state colleges many miles away. Most of those who left were among my circle of closest friends. Some left with a determination to never look back. Others, like myself, left with a happy anxiousness--ready to explore what else the world had to offer. None of us probably realized at that time how very different the world was when you look at it from a different zip code and in different surroundings.

Yes, wide open spaces were what I longed for at age eighteen. And,ironically, I made my college roots in West Texas as the song says. I listened to the songs of Natalie Maines' family long before she was old enough to sing, as their band was very popular in my college town.

I still remember the first day my roommate and I pulled onto campus, our two cars filled with everything we could imagine we'd need, us being mature college girls now. My roommate's old Trans Am made a slow turn in front of me and we both scanned the campus. There were people everywhere of every shape and size! Hot guys playing beach volleyball sans their t-shirts, girls laying out and reading on blankets, people walking across campus. And, my heart rushed at it all. To me, it was absolutely amazing!

When you grow up in a town where nothing ever changes and the faces are the same ones you've always seen staring back at you, the prospect of surrounding yourself with new faces can either paralyze you completely or it can energize you beyond belief. For me, it was the latter.

My roommate's car windows were down and I lowered mine too, letting the dry West Texas heat lay over me like a warm blanket. We had the same song blasting and as we came closer to our dorm building. And, we must have been feeling the same thing because about that time I saw her arms go up and a cheer go out. "WOO hoo!"

"YES!" I called back and threw my arms up as well--this was some kind of dream we were living! That moment stands out clearly even after all these years. I will never forget it as long as I live.

And, as I drove around listening to the Dixie Chicks those many years later, my hand still tapping at the life that grew in my belly, I remembered that feeling of freedom and excitement at the change that was happening in my life that day we moved in our dorm. The whole world was opening up for me and was mine for the taking. There is no feeling better than that, is there?

And, suddenly, it dawned on me that I was right back on that open road--embarking on a new journey of self-discovery all over again. Motherhood was indeed a wide open space of exploration for me, as much so as going away to college had ever been. And, as I felt my son gently nudge my side again with his little foot, I beamed and put my hands up again triumphantly, "Yes!"

This entry was written for the Crazy Hip Blog Mama's latest writing collaboration project. Stop by and check out the other submissions soon!


Blogger LadyBugCrossing said...

Music does that... it brings you back to those aha moments. :-)

7:17 AM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Fidget said...

i love how music can connect so closely and completely to a moment and bring you back at any time

2:22 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Babaloo said...

That gave me chills. Wide open spaces indeed. Wonderful descriptions.

2:31 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger MommaK said...

That song always gives me flashbacks too. I was moving to Oklahoma when it came out and had no idea what was in store for me there. Great post ;)

3:04 PM, July 07, 2006  
Anonymous Missi said...

Great post! I love that song.

5:11 PM, July 07, 2006  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

Such a great story, so beautifully told. I just love this.

6:02 PM, July 07, 2006  
Anonymous Vicki said...

that is a beautiful story! Funny how music can take us back to another time and place.

11:45 PM, July 07, 2006  
Blogger Nicole said...

You had me tear up at the end there...great stories. I remember those feelings, too. And you're right, we're not done yet!

1:03 PM, July 08, 2006  
Blogger Masked Mom said...

I've always loved that song, too--and found it applies in all kinds of ways, not merely geographical ones. :)

8:55 AM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger Belle said...

Here via the CHBMs. What a beautiful post!

11:35 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger DebbieDoesLife said...

I love the Dixie Chicks and ain't afraid to say so!!! I too, totally related to that song.

I love their new CD and the song "Easy Silence."

1:12 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Angela said...

This is such a touching post... I think the great thing about that song is that you can identify with it at so many stages in life. We have so many chances to be "free" in so many ways, and you're right, that is the most amazing feeling. That the world is there for your taking if you just reach out and grab!!

2:16 PM, July 10, 2006  

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