When I drive fast in my car, the strangest thing happens inside my body. A weird kind of energy takes hold of me. It tickles my nerves, stretches them to the point of where they are about to burst. As I take a firm grip at the steering wheel, focus on the road ahead of me, make a shift down to second gear and push the gas pedal almost right to the bottom, I feel like I’m master and commander, just about to enter a battle. Some kind of dangerous feeling invades me so to speak, as I’m playing around with a toy weighing 1,5 tons, seeking the best track, trying to find the straightest line, aiming for shortcuts of minimal significance. Minimal for most people, that is. For me, these shortcuts are essential. They mean the difference between omnipotence and joy or just plain transportation. A wide grin appears on my face when I transform into a woman-and-car unit. I need this feeling for survival, just as much as I need food.
I wasn't always fond of speed. Because I used to be a frightened little girl. Afraid of everything. Of the big boys who used to throw snowballs at me in the schoolyard. Afraid of heights, I could fall down you know. Afraid of bicycling down a steep hill. Afraid of what would happen if my mother died. Afraid of bee stings. Afraid of the sea, because I couldn’t see what was underneath my feet when I was swimming. Afraid of the dark – there used to be monsters in the dark when I was a child. Afraid of big cows and their wet tongues. Afraid of serpents, they could bite me. Afraid of thunder and lightning. Afraid of being sick if I entered the merry-go-round. Afraid of doing the wrong things.
This meant that the safest place in the world would be my bed. I spent most of my younger days sitting there with my nose glued to some book. I lived through the stories I read. There my fantasy could thrive wild without any danger. Spending time there, I could be wild and free and brave. A world of its own, the world of imagination. In this world there were no pain, no blood, no death. Not for real anyhow.
I read tons of books. I read everything, from The Wind in the Willows to large encyclopedias. I hungered for knowledge, for experience. All the things I didn’t dare to do in real life, I did with enthusiasm and strength in my imagination. I was Modesty Blaise. I was a fighter pilot. I fought tigers in India and polar bears in the Arctic. I was Mata Hari; seducing men in every way to get to their inner secrets. I made them forget King and Country, wives and children, honor and glory. And they did – I promise. I went side by side with Plato, discussing rhetorics. I had the courage of Joan of Arc. I spoke my mind in front of everyone – without flushing from head to toe – and spoke my mind well. I learned to build houses, engines, spacecraft. I achieved quite a lot of facts about details with no practical purpose. I had loving parents and no troubles at all. What a perfect place to be.
So I stayed there. For years and years I stayed there in my bed, surrounded by my books. When the other children played football in the field, when they were climbing trees, running, skiing or just hanging out together doing nothing in particular, I stayed in my bed. Seemingly satisfied, but in my heart I was very, very afraid. I just worked so hard to forget it that I almost did.
I grew up. Finished school. Got a job. Got married. Became a mother. All of these things happened, but I still stayed in bed. Cuddled up there with three thick pillows and an old, soft blanket.
Until one day my pile of books was taken away from me and my fantasy world was torn apart. Fear had found me and he was enraged. I wasn't able to hide anymore. What could I do? There were two options: The first one was letting go. The second one was fighting fear. I chose the second one. After that things started to change. Slowly.
Now I ride my car with the greatest enthusiasm. Wild at heart. Both hands on the steering wheel. The sensation of speed chases all my ghosts away. When I’m extremely bold I use only one finger controlling that heavy piece of machinery. Hunting the perfect track helps me focus. I feel the wind in my hair. I get high on adrenaline. Perfecting every hand-eye-foot coordination in order to get maximum out of the horse power in front of me. Aroused by the sensuality of the moment. Knowing that there are nothing to be afraid of anymore. I wouldn’t go back. Not for the world. No wonder I’m addicted.
(This started out as a story about the love of speed. It ended up as a story of fear. I wonder why.)