Sometimes I ride around the block without my seatbelt on just to feel something. Today, I rode all the way to work without my seatbelt on. This is the farthest I’ve ever gone so criminally naked, and let me tell you something, internet: it was exhilarating.
“Oh but SOLANA,” you are perhaps now breathlessly shouting at your computer screen, shaking, tears streaming down your face, “riding in a car without your seatbelt on is against the law and is therefore wrong!”
But that is not true. Sure, it is illegal. Drinking at age 20, which nobody (sane) cares about, is also illegal. Smoking marijuana is illegal, which, unbelievable as it may sound, many (insane) people are ok with. Until very recently, it was illegal for men to have sex with men in certain parts of the United States. Did you know that? I know that because I am a man who likes men and it is a therefore very insane-sounding thing to me, a thing that, when told, informed me of some simple but profound wrongness with the way that we think about law. These — drinking, sexing, seatbelt free-balling — are victimless crimes: laws that, when broken, impact no person other than the consenting adult or adults involved. Illegal, yes. Wrong? Get out of my face. Because you are not my mother and I am not five and it is not your job to keep me from spraying water into the electric socket and plugging things into it.
Relax, though. This is not a rant. I’m getting to the practicum. Yes, all of these laws are stupid, and all of the people who support these laws are annoying. But this isn’t about them. This is about — do you feel me? Do you feel this wrongness too? Do you sometimes want to cry out in the middle of the day, from nothing, it seems, for no apparent reason? Is there a tightness in your chest that you can’t account for? A dull, constant itch behind your eyes? Does the plastic safety coating through which you are expected to look at this world, to touch this world, to understand this world, inhibit you from really looking at, touching, or understanding this world? Do you want to stand up but not know why? Do you sometimes imagine yourself selling everything that you own but some clothing and a book bag, quitting your job, and walking? Just walking and walking and walking and you don’t even know where you are walking to?
I’m not saying that this will make you feel better, but I’m saying that this will make you feel better.
1. When you first sit down in the driver’s seat of your car, you will be struck instantly and powerfully by the thought that — omgomgomg, I should put my seatbelt on though! Ignore that thought. The first step to driving without a seatbelt is not putting on your seatbelt. Do not put your seatbelt on.
2. Roll down your windows and put on some music. You hit peak angst around 16- or 17-years old. Whatever you were listening to at that age is probably perfect for today’s lesson. 16- and 17-year olds are insufferable, ungrateful monsters, but for a combination of very potent psychopathy-inducing hormones coursing through their bloodstream and a series of bizarre brain growth things, they are also the most excellent people in the entire world at not following rules and ‘doing their own thing’ and ‘YOLO-ing,’ basically, just 24-hours-a-day, 7-days-a-week ‘YOLO-ing.’ The music will call that mental state back up from deep within you, and you will begin to remember ‘you’re not my dad you can’t tell me what to do I don’t even care what you think about me!’ From here, you will be well positioned to more fully experience your reality.
This morning, I selected The Offspring’s “Self Esteem,” played it on repeat, and was quite pleased with my results, which were: 1) a powerful sense of liberation where I had previously not registered a drag, 2) a newfound sense of optimism concerning my future, 3) a more difficult-to-unpack feeling, but definite sense, that I should ‘keep on going’.
3. While you are driving without your seatbelt on, your car, if new-ish, will gently flash you with a small, red light shaped like an asshole with his seatbelt off, beep at you, kindly at first and then incessantly, or both. In the case of Charizard, my Jeep, it is both. Two tricks, here. First, hold your steering wheel at 12 O’Clock, obstructing the distracting, red light with your fist. With your second hand hanging out of your car, tapping your door or resting on your rolled-down window with your elbow bent at 45 degrees, you will not see the light and will also look very cool. To fix this problem of the incessant beeping (or dinging, in some cars), turn your music up until you can’t hear it anymore. If you can still hear the beeping a little, turn your music up again. Turn your music up until you can no longer hear the beeping.
4. Contemplate your immediate existence — physically untethered, blasting The Offspring (or whatever) with your windows down in your otherwise quiet, boring neighborhood, cruising at, literally, 10 or 15 miles per hour. You are wearing your leather jacket and aviators and you are so awesome and you are freer than you have ever been in your entire life because you are actively engaging with the thought of your own freedom. I am free, you are thinking. I should perhaps wear this seatbelt, but I don’t physically have to. I have to eat and to drink water, but I do not have to wear this seatbelt. I chose not to, just now, and am still here. This is my decision about my life. Me. I am. Now breathe. Be here. Enjoy this.
5. Repeat until the blanket anxiety or throbbing numbness goes away, or whenever you feel like it.
It seems like a very bad idea to drive without your seatbelt on a highway, or any high-traffic road, and I do not recommend doing this. It isn’t wrong, but I encourage you not to on account of it could lead to serious and otherwise unnecessary injury or death. However, with very few people around, at a slow pace? I sometimes don’t wear my seatbelt. I just don’t want to. And so I don’t.
Because “Clean your room,” your mom would often say while you were growing up.
And “Why?” you would ask, not trying to be a jerk to the woman who made you, but genuinely curious. “It’s my room.”
And you were right. It was your room.
It is still your room.