It’s Tuesday and I cannot stop thinking about Tracy Chapman singing “Fast Car” at the Grammys on Sunday night.

I think it has taken me so long to say something because I’m honestly still reeling. I was completely unprepared for the wave of emotions that hit me as she stood on that stage in jeans and a simple black shirt and sang that haunting melody, as beautifully as she did 36 years ago when it was released.

It’s a song that simultaneously lifts your soul and breaks your heart and I was wrecked.

Everyone has a memory of “Fast Car.” Where we were. Who we were with. What we were dreaming of. What’s so beautiful about this song is that it is truly universal—it transcends time and generations. And to create a song that doesn’t just tell a story, but what feels like ALL of our stories, is a work of pure genius.

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When I was an infallible college kid driving down the road with a friend, belting out the lyrics in the front seat at the top of my lungs, window rolled down and wind blowing in my hair, it was a song about hope. It was a song about getting out of there in your “fast car.” It was a song about having your whole life ahead of you, even if you didn’t start from a good place. For me, it was a song about dreaming of leaving small-town Indiana and making it in the big city—Washington, DC. The allure of success, the promise of freedom, that contagious youthful idealism we all had.

You got a fast car
Is it fast enough so we can fly away?
We gotta make a decision
Leave tonight or live and die this way

But when I heard that song again on Sunday night for the first time in a very long time, it was a completely different song. It took the air out of my lungs. First the nostalgia, then the yearning, then the realization, and then the tears.

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Because here we are now, decades later. Maybe on the other side of that big city adventure, where we still felt lost, when we still couldn’t find ourselves. No longer young and naïve. Still trying to make it work. Still trying to get by. Now understanding that life is hard and complicated and there are so many challenges, and sometimes it doesn’t work out, and sometimes you don’t get out.

And as tears streamed down my cheeks, I realized that maybe it’s not about that. Maybe it’s not so much about the “fast car” or flying away—it’s about looking back at who we were, who we wanted to be, and coming to terms with who we are now.

And maybe it’s about having somewhere we belong and someone to belong to. Maybe it’s about feeling like we are truly known.

And I had a feeling that I belonged
I had a feelin’ I could be someone
Be someone, be someone

Originally published on the author’s Facebook page.

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Emily Solberg

Emily Solberg is a soldier, military spouse, mom of two, and fierce advocate of women supporting women. The goal of her writing is to help others feel less alone in their parenting journeys, and she isn’t afraid to share the hard parts of her own. You can find more from her over on Facebook and Instagram at Shower Arguments with Emily Solberg.

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