Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Driving Myself Crazy

Yesterday, I reached a very important milestone.

Those who know me are aware that there are many things I can do--but driving is not one of them. I didn't get my license until I was 19, after failing the driving test once--and I'm convinced the second tester only gave it to me out of pity. However, my father tells me I should consider myself lucky: my grandmother failed the test four times, my father failed it really, to continue the pattern, I should have had to fail it twice before passing. In any case, even after I obtained the coveted piece of plastic (with a shockingly decent picture!), my independence was still incomplete. Though I mastered driving in my tranquil suburban neighborhood, I was still utterly petrified of driving on the freeway. With my mother in the passenger's seat, I would occasionally take the wheel on short drives, for practice, but even those excursions were extremely nerve-wracking. The fact that I have no (and I mean literally ZERO) sense of direction doesn't help matters. Heck, I still have trouble telling the difference between left and right (seriously).

So now I've had my license for over a year, and though I've made a few solo freeway drives (requiring about 45 seconds of freeway each), I've never gone farther than that. My lack of transportation independence has aggravated my friends for years, since it means that if they ever want to see me they have to make the half hour drive to my house, and I rarely pay a return call (my parents are anti-kid schlepping).

So last night, when I told my mom that I wanted to go to the 'hood to see my friends, and she unexpectedly said, "Ok, take the car," my reaction was less than tranquil. I knew that this day would come, and I wanted it to, but that didn't make it any less terrifying. In contemplation of the drive before me, I nearly burst into tears. I envisioned myself getting into various accidents--even if miraculously I didn't end up in the hospital, at least I would damage the car and incur my father's wrath.

I wavered back and forth. Should I do it? Though my timid side urged me to give up the crazy scheme and succumb to passivity (as I do far too often), another part of me refused. "No!" it said. "There comes a time for a girl to act...and that time is now. You need to learn not to be afraid. Grow up, dude!" So, hoping that giving this side of me some exercise would help me be strong in other areas, I steeled myself for the task, grabbed the keys, and got in the car.

And I made it. All in once piece. And so did the car! True, it took me a while to figure out how to work the windshield wipers (did I mention that it was raining?), and yes, my freeway lane change was less than ideal, but I didn't get pulled over, and no one even made any obscene hand gestures (though, of course, this isn't NYC).

At my friend's house, her parents were even more excited than I was about my newfound skill. After all, it means that she no longer has to abscond with their cars to come see me all the time. Later that night, my brother was dropped off in the 'hood after an NCSY event, so I got to experience a new dimension of driving: the teenage boy as passenger. Though my brother is no driver (he's only 15), his presence and the knowledge that I had already done it once before made the drive home far easier than the drive there--despite the fact that it was nighttime, and despite the music blasting. (When I drove by myself I turned off the music, realizing that it was only a distraction...though that didn't really help much, because I just ended up singing to myself anyway.) With my brother egging me on, I hit 70 on the way home...and loved it.

When we arrived back home triumphantly, my parents awaited to hear about the disasters that had occurred on the drive--but there were none to report! Hoorah for me!

My next challenge: learn how to read a map.


jackie said...


lizzy said...

thats so great to hear....highway (sorry i just cant call it freeway) driving is so great and relaxing once you get used to it.

Daphne said...

good job sj! i'm proud of you!

Scraps said...

Woohoo! That's fantastic news!

I can't truly relate, because I love highway driving, but it's a huge milestone, and I'm so glad for you!

Erachet said...

Wow, that's AMAZING! And this is coming from a girl who failed the road test five times. *Sheepish grin* I also didn't have my license until I was 19 and I have never driven on the highway alone. I'm so terrified. It seems like all the time I hear about accidents that happen to people! But honestly, this post gave me a lot of chizuk for my own driving excursions. I know that (most probably soon) a day will come when I will also have to just take the car and go, and I'm both dreading it and looking forward! I know I can't stand driving because it freaks me out, but at the same time, there's a certain thrill that goes along with it, and I definitely don't want to be one of those adults who doesn't drive. I want to have that independence and not be handicapped by not driving. But then's so scary! Hehe. Okay. Anyway. I'm SO impressed that you did this and the fact that it turned out just fine makes me feel loads better about my own driving! So thank you so much for this post!

corner point said...

Titchadshi on the newfound driving skills! May you continue to hone them safely and enjoyably for many years to come.

I'm enjoying your blog, by the way. Keep it up! :-)

(And...have you figured out yet--Which way is up? Ah, it's something that's been tickling me for a while now...)

halfshared said...

Way to go! Once you take a plunge, it definitely gets easier on subsequent excursions. I also love highway driving but I took to driving like a fish to water..came very naturally to me so I guess for me it was no big deal. May you drive safely for many many years and your driving should take you to many simchas.

AT PEACE said...