I can remember driving this road in my twenties and not even thinking twice about the fact that the only thing keeping me from plunging down the side of the mountain was a rickety aluminum rail that is only knee high. And every couple of miles you can see places where the rail is bent or dented or completely missing, making you wonder how many cars it never kept on the road.
As I was winding up the road at thirty miles per hour, paralyzed by fear, I couldn't stop looking in the rear view mirror at Sabine asleep in the backseat. And I thought about Kadin beside me, and about myself, too. All three lives were in my hands. If I lost them or they lost me, well, it's the worst "if" I can think of.
So I drove up that mountain, not caring that I was the granny driver holding up way too many cars. When I was twenty and did closer to sixty on that road, I cared what people thought and drove fast so I could be the cool girl. But honestly, I wasn't afraid then. Maybe because when I was twenty I felt like I had a lot less to lose. Or maybe I felt invincible because I hadn't watched someone get seriously hurt, get sick or die. I hadn't suffered loss. It was a story, a movie, not my own reality.
I don't know. I just know that I almost vomited during my last trip on that mountain road. And I couldn't stop thinking about what happened to that speedy, fearless, untouchable woman that I was almost fifteen years ago. For the first time, I noticed she was gone. And I missed her. It's much more difficult, painful, uncomfortable and scary to be fearful and aware. When you grow up, you gain a lot: wisdom, and sometimes, a family of your own. Which means you have that much more to lose. And there's nothing like a steep mountain and a treacherous road with a flimsy rail to remind you of that.