I was once told by a person I loved, “you’re not a windows-down type of girl, are you?” We were in the car. It was a sweltering hot day, and as we pulled out of the parking lot he rolled down our windows. I don’t know if I didn’t like the feel of the hot air on my face or if I was just annoyed that the wind kept dislodging my bangs tucked behind my ears, but I rolled my window up. And that’s when he uttered that question. I heard disdain in his voice; a certain disbelief that I was actually that kind of girl. Or rather that I wasn’t the kind he thought I was. I was immediately hurt and defensive: “of course I am! I drive with the windows down in my car all the time!”
And it was true. I thought of myself as that kind of girl, the one who lets her hair whip around her as she drives down the road. The type of girl that’s alluring and carefree, who has a mysterious air about her because you never know where she’ll go next, like the wind. I wanted to be that girl, but the truth was I was only a little bit her. I had seen myself through his eyes and it was thrilling, but what he didn’t see was the fear that controlled my life. I was ruled by it; I bowed down and served it. There were too many risks in driving with the windows down all the time. I think what shocked him that day was the realization that we were serving the same master. We were both afraid, and he was hoping I’d be the one to ride in the car with him, windows down.
When it was over I drove with the windows down all the time. I took pride in it, that he had rubbed off on me in this way. I kept thinking, “if only he knew the impact he had, if only he knew that I’m the type of girl he wanted.” That’s what he said, that he wanted me to be free. He wanted me to find freedom and find myself. At least that’s what he said. I thought I had found freedom with him. I thought I had discovered the windows-down girl inside. But what I realized as the days went by was that it was a facade. I had become a mirror image of him. I had made myself into the person I thought he wanted. Aspects were true; I don’t think I ever lied. But he never saw the full picture. I felt alive because I had finally lived up to someone’s expectations; I completely met someone’s needs. I was the dream.
The truth is, sometimes I’m a windows-down girl and sometimes I’m a windows-shut-tight girl. I thought he helped me discover myself. In a way I guess he did, but sadly he never knew me. It wasn’t until we parted ways and I made choices solely for myself that I realized who I was. There’s power in it, making a choice with only your own gut to back you up. You have to stand alone with your decision, good or bad. I wanted to be that girl for him, for me, for all women. But in the absence, in the standing alone, I realized two things: that I can be whatever type of girl I want to be; there’s no right choice. And if I choose to roll my windows down, I’m the one who will do it, not someone else.