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OPINION: Life is a Highway

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by Michelle A.L. Singer

When I was in high school, Tom Cochran’s version of the song “Life is a Highway” hit the airwaves and attached itself directly to my nervous system. I had a license, a good pair of sunglasses and a great car. My cooler-than-thou brother had handed down to me a ’66 Mustang with a souped-up engine and custom stereo with a “bass cannon” in the trunk. I had “Life is a Highway” on a cassette single and when I popped it in and pumped it up, I became a daredevil and, I suspected, a badass.

I had developed a series of racy vehicular maneuvers for different parts of the song — swerves at the doot doota doot doot YEAH! and at the screeching “Whoooooo!” part, I floored it. This particular dance driving routine earned me more than one brush with disaster but I had a Mustang with a 302 and it was painted black: I was immortal.

Two decades and three children later, I recently found myself driving into town in my standard-issue silver Subaru. I was having a blessed moment to myself — no kids in the backseat complaining, just me and a summer afternoon — when “Life is a Highway” came on the radio. I smiled. My palms began to twitch on the steering wheel. At a stop sign I looked carefully around. I waited for the right part of the song. Then, with a glint in my eye, I punched the gas pedal to the floor for just a few seconds “Whoooooo!” before I returned to the dictates of my sensible mother protocol. I am no longer immortal, but it’s still my song. I’m more careful, more tired, less daredevil and certainly less badass, but life is still my highway. Doot doota doot doot YEAH!

Michelle A.L. Singer lives in East Montpelier and, amazingly, the Mustang is still in her life. It’s now painted dark burgundy and is just getting a new exhaust manifold. And no, it’s not for sale.

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