“You got a fast car,
I got a ticket to anywhere.”
I am seated at my desk staring at my laptop. I should be working, instead I am busy remembering. Pondering on the past and how certain moments can never be erased from our memories.
A certain moment lingers in my mind. It was the time I was in a taxi, on a long road trip from Heathrow Airport to my university. As I gazed out of the window, a familiar song played on the radio. It was Fast Car by Tracy Chapman. The song is about persevering love, growing up, and the endless difficulties of life. I had heard it before and remembered that it had made me feel a spark of melancholy. Although, I could not fully understand what the song meant. That first time, it played randomly amidst an RnB playlist on Spotify. It was one of the very few times that the Shuffle feature had given me a song I actually wanted to hear. However, the second time Tracy Chapman’s distinctive voice filled my ears, I could understand every line. I felt that the lyrics were written with that particular moment in mind.
My five large suitcases were stacked in the boot of the car. When the taxi driver had seen my mother and I emerging from the departures section, our trolley stacked high with suitcases, he had asked,
I smiled. “No, just going to university.”
“Starting from zero, got nothing to lose,
Maybe we’ll make something.”
I wondered then about the magnitude of change. If I could actually transform my self and life just by moving to another country. Start from zero, just as the song said. University would be an opportunity for me to become an entirely different person in a new country. As these thoughts swirled around my head, so did unimportant ones, as well. Thoughts like what my room would look like, if I would make any friends, and if I would be liked. Then another thought hit – a fearful one that I had been pushing to the back of my mind. It was: ‘Would I crumble under the weight of all of this change?’
“You got a fast car,
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?”
I am not the type of person that cries when others are around, but at that moment, I began to. It must have been the song or the fact that I had not cried at the airport when hugging my father and brother goodbye. It was pent up, begging for something to let it loose.
In an effort to hide my tears from my mother, I tilted my head back, pushing those pesky droplets back to where they came from. I squinted at the meter running in the car. Everything in this place costs so much, I thought.
“So, remember we were driving,
driving in your car.
speed so fast, I felt like I was drunk.”
I didn’t realise I had drifted off into sleep, bored with the monotony of red traffic lights and turning road corners, until my mother tapped me awake.
“We’re here.” she said.
The brown academic buildings and basketball court were the first things I saw. Next, the entire university rolled out before me. No grand entrance, just a few students milling about, a food shop, a block of halls, then finally an accommodation building with ‘Rutherford Hall’ written on a sign in front of it. My new home.