What is it that compels us to embrace motion, take to the roads and long to flee? As I examine my own seeming affection for wheels of all kinds,  I share ways they have served a purpose for me and in doing so, hope to perhaps shed a little light for others who may have experienced similar discord, restlessness or angst as kids or as adults.


To hear an AudioBoo reading of this piece by the writer, go to http://audioboo.fm/boos/1480874-wheels.




By Chris Kuhn

Ever since I can remember, I’ve turned to wheels to make it better.


When the teasing got unbearable on the sidewalks after school, I just hopped up on the banana seat and sped away on my bicycle as fast as my clumsy legs could pedal.


When I became stir crazy in landlocked Tallahassee during college, I hit the back roads and headed toward Apalachicola, just to get a glimpse of a body of water, even though it was murky and pretty disgusting.


When verbal warfare during my first marriage became too much, I zoomed up and down the streets of downtown Tampa during the middle of the night—when I could remember which were one-way and what direction they ran. And I’m embarrassed to say that I did get it wrong on a few frightening occasions, quickly rotating onto adjacent cross roads through tear-streaked eyeglasses to avoid distant but approaching vehicles.


And after that chapter ended and I needed a way to release myself from the anger, restlessness and hurt clutching me, I set aside a week one autumn and took to the interstate highway system, exploring the world on my own or at least the southeastern part of the United States. Probably not the wisest thing for a fairly naïve, newly separated 23-year-old woman. Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. I roamed looking for answers to questions, got a few and gave up on the rest. When I returned, I was still as lost as before but perhaps a little less angry, restless and hurt.


In more recent years, I’ve gotten away from escaping by foot, bike or automobile and relied on the wheels whirling around up here, in my mind. Whether I was picking up a book to help me escape troubles or insecurities weighing me down or dreaming up a different world altogether and attempting to beam up through the characters and words formulated while writing my own novel. My most recent path to freedom has been by way of my imagination.


I’m feeling it again, that urge to reach for the wheel, when changes have you cornered, and so much that you see and hear is not as it appears.


Maybe I’ve walked into a fun house where the mirrors only reflect part of the story…the strange, bent, ugly part. Only when you step out again into the sunlight, can you see things as they really are. Not always more pleasantly but usually more fully and without question, more accurately.


I’m feeling it once more, that urge to floor it, when I’ve bestowed my trust and yet find myself alone when the call to drown out angst and sorrow is met with echo.


Could I have stepped into the deepest well, brimming with vitality to cultivate and support, yet drying up at the touch of my finger, unwilling to sate even one moment of fulfilling basic needs or quenching thirst?


I’m feeling it down deep, deep in my shoes and nestled between my toes even, that flickering desire for motion, when those molecules wanting to be somewhere else far out-number those voting to stay put.


I often wonder if each time my fear compels my body to flee if little spores of mine are being left behind, reminders of where I could have fought a battle or taken a stand but instead chose a getaway.


On the school sidewalks, along back roads and highways, and across a downtown street grid that has since been updated to fewer one-way streets since 20 years ago– best for everyone really.


I’ve already felt little pieces of me escaping like bubbles, roaming free in the atmosphere higher and higher until they dissipate on their own or I simply lose sight of their whereabouts. How many more can I watch float away seeking refuge elsewhere before I’m no longer me anymore?


Perhaps I should just…go for a ride.


  1. Wow! I’m so glad you shared this! I could feel the emotion when you talked about your tear-streaked glasses. I know that feeling of “drive”…”go”.

    Great piece!

    • chriskuhn

      Thanks, Jesse. Yeah, the steering wheel and I have shared some pivotal moments together. I’m glad that my words resonated with you. Thanks for reading! ~ ck


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