We are excited to announce that the DriveSafe Scholarship Competition winner for 2022 is Christopher “CJ” Lanaghen!
CJ (they/them), born and raised in Colorado, has built not only a life but a career in Boulder. From their passion for music production and artistry to their frequent involvement in the coffee industry, they’ve tried to branch out into as many things as possible. Not only has CJ released music on a verified Spotify account, but they have plans to attend a private sound engineering school in Tempe, Arizona known as “The Conservatory of Recording Arts and Sciences.” With big plans on the horizon and even bigger dreams, CJ can’t wait to see what the future has in store!
DriveSafe Scholarship applicants were asked to respond to the question, “What have you learned about yourself, as a result of learning to drive?”
You can read CJ’s excellent essay below:
The Birth of the Vibe Shack by Christopher “CJ” Lanaghen
Driving has been one of the largest parts of my life for the last few years. Be it commuting to work, driving to school, or having a place for my friends and I to laugh, listen to music, and talk about how we’re doing without worrying about being walked in on. I’ve driven every road in Boulder, even beyond, and I’ve made memories at every stoplight, every street corner. I’ve had conversations from the driver’s seat that have changed my life, some for the better, some for the worse. I’ve watched my passengers, my friends, fall in an out of love, sometimes even back in again, all from the rear-view mirror.
During the pandemic, my friends and I all had nobody to talk to. We had each lost all of our other connections due to a mix of quarantine and lack of interest. Our parents wouldn’t let us out, so as rebellious kids do, we would sneak out every night and go for a drive. We would shift from Cherryvale Trailhead to Bobolink, even the lookout on Highway 93. We would look at the lights of Boulder as they went out one by one and talk about our lives. Over the next year we continued this routine. Sneaking out, meeting up, and driving in what we began to lovingly call “The Vibeshack”. From breakups to breakdowns, every single one of us underwent transformations.
I, for example, started in a very bad place. I had started quarantine with the belief that I wouldn’t make it through. I had lost my friends, my connections outside of them were weak, what did I have to stick around for? The night I was driving around with them for the first time was originally intended to be my last drive around Boulder. My friends, my car, the chance to get out and go be alone with our thoughts together, it saved me, and I’ve heard it saved my friends too.
Being here to write this essay at all is proof enough for me that driving has helped me learn about myself. I’ve learned that I deserve better than someone who sits in your backseat and refuses to pay for gas. I’ve learned that I’m happier on the open road than a closed room. I’ve learned, most of all, that it really isn’t just about whether or not you have people to stick around for anymore. There are so many things to experience, so many drives, so many views of the late-night city lights to be seen.
Since those nights, I’ve used sounds from my car to make music about my experiences, garnering thousands of streams in a matter of months and helping me book a gig down in Denver. I’m only able to make that music because I learned to drive. In fact, I got accepted to a nationally renowned audio engineering school in part due to my music. A school I’m going to drive down to in seven months.