The bright moonlight shone through the tall trees and lit up the road in front of me as I whipped my little Honda Accord around the streets of Redding, Calif. I was a naïve college freshman, and those streets would be the last for the little Honda That Could [Not Always].
But at that moment, on this brisk night, I didn’t know the same streets would soon be the death of the little car. All I knew was that when Bon Jovi’s “It’s My Life” came on the radio, I sang loudly along and felt every word.
I had been feeling like an imposter in my own life lately. I had questions about faith and love and social issues and politics that were not OK to ask at my conservative Christian school. I didn’t even know how to form the questions. I had dreams that did not align with finding a husband or becoming a missionary. But I didn't know how to get out of there without seeming a quitter.
Days later, the car’s frightening and untimely demise would give me cause me to flee that city, school and life as I knew it. I didn’t suddenly give up on the young God-fearing girl I was at the time, but I knew I’d need to make my own path either way. And for the most part, I have.
It’s been nearly 10 years since then. I’ve grown up. I’ve chosen a city, an outlook, a lifestyle and a group of friends, all of which I couldn’t have dreamt up if I tried. I am so, so different from the girl who sang along to Bon Jovi one night and then accidentally hydroplaned her car into a tree a few nights later. (OK, so it was a tree and a telephone pole. Details, details.)
Last Friday, one beer in each hand, I stood next to my best friend in a stadium with tens of thousands of people watching Jon Bon Jovi on stage. And I heard him sing the words to the song that had been the soundtrack to my inner revolution. “This ain’t a song for the broken-hearted. No silent prayer for the faith-departed.”
I watched the tens of thousands of people in the Staples center sing along, my heart full of gratitude. At that moment there was no place I’d rather have been, nothing I’d rather have been doing with my life. On one side, I had a friend who loves me enough to think to surprise me with Bon Jovi tickets for my birthday. Two more friends dancing and laughing beside us. And the iconic Jon Bon Jovi performing yards away. It was a magic moment.
The lyrics to that song still ring true for me. But instead of inciting an inner revolution, they bring to mind an ever-growing challenge. It’s my life – it’s now or never.
I choose now.