Taking The Wheel

Following a muted interlude of loose gravel churning beneath my tires, Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” start’s playing on the radio. There’s a bundle of lilac freshly cut from my mum’s garden on the back seat; the last burst of sunlight before dusk is strong and unyielding against my cheeks. As I drive back to my temporary home in New Hampshire, in my new car, semi-established in a new life, I think back to when I heard an Acapella version of this song years ago at my brother’s high school graduation. With four years of high school still ahead of me, I felt relief back then knowing I still had time to wait in the sidelines and observe life from a safe distance.

It was so easy to let everyone else take the wheel back then.

Back Seat Graduation

Just under five months ago, I formerly kicked myself out of the backseat.

After living in Bratislava, Slovakia for four years, I decided to move back to my native New Hampshire to pursue a new job in communications. I was itching for a new challenge, a new place to further spread my wings, a beautiful spot to settle down with my soon-to-be-husband. It was a tough decision to make, in part because it meant months of long distance and tearful goodbyes. But I knew it was time to graduate, to truly take the wheel.

During the pandemic and the dregs of it that carried through 2021, I remembered a promise I had made to myself years ago. After one too many people had told me I played it too safe, I decided I would never let myself get too comfortable in life again. The beauty of life I had witnessed so far was neatly framed, displayed just so. It wasn’t nearly as exciting and terrifying as the wilderness of life I find myself in now.

Within a week of moving back to New Hampshire, I bought a car and started a new job I never thought I was cut out for, but the daily challenges it throws my way push me towards admitting something I never thought I could: veering way off the typical path has served me well, and I think I might be… kind of proud of myself.

A friend in fear

There are times when my love for transience feels like a burden. Expanding my idea of home makes for more people and places to miss. In missing them, I feel like a piece of me is missing too.

But then there’s the luxurious counterbalance of making up for lost time, fully understanding the deep value of every moment spent with those I love and adore.

After seeing them once, maybe twice a year, I now visit my parents every weekend, and it’s been such a gift. They are the soft landing place in this hard dose of living. It is because of my family’s support, here in New England and Slovakia, that I can confront everything that falls outside the zone of safety.

My fears – the trivial, the debilitating, and everything in between – are still plentiful, but the time I have to decide whether I want to confront them is a quick blink, one and done. It seems when I have my hands on the wheel, there’s no time to decide. I’m driving towards scary, time after time, on this road of ruts and vistas.

Dakujem, Slovakia

Before I part with you, my dear, patient readers, let it be known that my time in Slovakia still shapes me in my day-to-day life.

Moje mile Slovesko – my sweet Slovakia – you seized me by the heart and introduced me to the love of my life (who I can’t wait to marry in October :)) You provided me with shelter in the deep wilderness of transformation. Under your roof, I grew in confidence and assurance that life itself is actually the most indecisive force on this planet. There is no reality in which it takes the wheel from the person who is living.

We all create our own destinies, that much I am certain of. Sometimes by happy accident, as Bob Ross might say. Sometimes with purpose and force. Sometimes with trepidation. Sometimes with pain. Sometimes with excitement.

But always always always, that wheel is yours for the taking… especially if, like me, you’re on a 72-month plan to pay it off 😉

Drive on,



  1. Marcia

    What a treat to wake up to your post…so nice to have you writing and sharing again. Such an exciting time and glad to have you back “home”. Looking forward to the celebrations ahead.


  2. nan s

    Hi Anna, I really enjoyed reading your recent post !!!  You have traveled to so many places all over the world and experienced so many adventures along the way. I also suspect you have managed to live very simple life and have met so many amazing people. Your life experience has given you much insight I am sure as you delve into the many challenges you face as the Communication Director of the entire state of New Hampshire.

    I wish you only the very best and so much happiness on the day of your beautiful wedding !!!  I asked Rachelle to share some photos with me. Nancy


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