The Moment I Grew Up

I’m sitting here thinking about how so many of my most permanent moments have happened in a car. 

I don’t remember what the weather was like or the time of day, if the sun was boasting it’s light or if the moon was swollen in the sky. All I can recall is the steady pulse of traffic buzzing by my window, the faint sound of tires over gravel. The radio was so quiet, you couldn’t make out words, just soft melodies on a loop. A familiar beat started shaking the car, I looked over at my mom in the drivers seat- her delicate freckles laid across her cheeks, cascading over the bridge of her nose. Her crystal blue eyes shimmering when they caught a corner of the light. And she started to belt out whatever song was playing. Every single word was wrong. But she sang anyways, confidently, a growing smirk on her lips as she realized I was laughing at her.

I grew up in that moment. 

That moment was the first time I had ever seen my mom as more than just my mother. More than the person who gave me this gift of life, but as her own person. I saw her at 7 years old —  pigtail hair, yelling at her little brothers. I saw her at 16 — sneaking out of the house, getting the butterflies, going on dates. I saw her at 21 —  a beer in hand, the life of the party making all her friends laugh with her sarcastic mouth. 

I sat there in the passenger seat, my feet up on the dashboard, in awe. I watched her sing and sing and sing and with each passing moment I saw her for something new. I watched as her charm and her wit sparkled on the surface of her skin unlike I’d ever noticed them before. I watched her laugh lines tell the stories of all the times she’s heard a joke, or told one. There have been a lot. I saw her confidence, her independence, her pure badassness. I finally heard what she meant when she’d say “Be aggressive with how real you are.” She is the most herself that a person could be- unapologetically real, her personality so tangible, just a rope hanging around for anyone to grab onto. 

The radio turned off with the car and we came to a stop. She looked at me as if she knew what had just happened and we sat in silence. She grabbed my arm, our matching freckled hands intertwined. I leaned my head on her shoulder, we laughed our identical laughs, and that was home.