It’s stifling here. Warm, yes. Hot, even. A nice day, she says, as I unlock the car. She doesn’t get in. She has to check the lights. The blinkers work.
They’ll still work ten minutes from now, when I make that fateful right turn and miss the “No Right on Red” sign. She doesn’t tell me I’ve failed, though. She tells me later, after finishing the test.
I wait in line to reschedule. She says all of my forms are still good, that I can just get in line and the paperwork will be waiting when I get to the front. I recognize people, here. They’re the same folks who were here years ago when I got my state ID. They haven’t changed, they haven’t moved on. Same hair, same clothes, same attitude. Same deliberate pace, same arbitrary rule-lawyering. He calls me up, asks me why I’m there. I present the test form that shows I’ve failed. He hands me more paperwork, tells me to fill it out. I start on it and he insults me, tells me to get out and let someone else come up, someone who’s ready. I throw out the paperwork, grab my failed test form and my dad, then leave the building.
I wish I could say I’d stormed out, that I’d struck a blow for a cause I had only just been given reason to champion. Instead, I deflate into the passenger seat. Dad asks if I want to drive, but I don’t. We stop for lunch at a Subway and I tell him about what’s been on my mind, about the girl and the boy who’ve managed to make me feel so small, so impotent, simply by being happy. He doesn’t seem to understand and the conversation tapers off. We get home, I write her a final message, remove her and the other people with whom I’ve severed ties from my Facebook friend list. It’s a silly gesture. “Remove From Friends,” says the link. I click it and I’m done. Just like that, we’re strangers again.
So why don’t I feel free?
Why do I have these thoughts of uprooting myself, of quitting my job and moving away? I can’t afford it, but a part of me doesn’t care. It doesn’t see six months of minimum wage as time well spent, it doesn’t see the heartache that comes from seeing hurtful people day in and day out to be worth it. It just wants change, and it wants that change to be drastic and sudden. I want that change to be drastic and sudden. Would that change anything? Would I gain my hard-sought freedom, my independence?
I don’t know. It scares me not to know. It would scare me even more if I did know, though, because at least without knowing, failure doesn’t feel definite.