Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Driving Thoughts - Independence

I remember when the idea of driving first was embedded in my brain. It probably was walking to church for the thousandth time, or after running to catch a bus and just missing it. As a teenager driving represented independence, and I wanted that; the ability to get in my car and go anywhere of my choosing without answering to anyone; I was dreaming but this is what I wanted.

Way back then, I went to driving school and even took some lessons with my future husband. Parallel parking posed the biggest challenge so I wanted to make sure that I got that right. Nowadays, parallel parking is not a big deal; here in CA it wasn't a big focus of the test. My, how times have changed, but in Brooklyn we needed to know how to parallel park on the left and right sides of the street. The day of my road test, I was slightly nervous and the rain had  just ended. I remember my instructor appeared a little grumpy; but don't they all seem that way when you're trying to gain your independence? I splashed through a puddle but that was not considered a major infraction, and then I parallel parked - perfectly! I got my license on the first try.

I remember when a girlfriend of mine first got her license. It was a Saturday afternoon in Brooklyn and we had nothing to do, so we thought we'd drive to Flatbush Avenue and peruse some of the stores. She felt lucky in that she had her father's car for the afternoon which was no mean feat for her. She picked me up in her father's jalopy; the car was gray and huge. It was bigger than the two of us combined. Her biggest concern, which soon became mine - where would we ever find a spot to park this monstrosity? It felt good being out and about, driving and talking, but parking the car was always looming. We reached our destination, but every time we thought we saw a parking spot that big old grey jalopy wouldn't fit and Nads could not maneuver the car to get in to the spot. For most spots, I kept insisting it could fit. She would try, I would cheer, but it wouldn't fit. Finally, we found a spot. It wasn't perfect but I definitely thought she could fit.  It appeared to be quite nerve wracking for Nads, as she attempted to remember everything she learned in driving school to park that car, while not hitting anyone or anything. We laughed triumphantly once she parked the car.

We weren't Thelma and Louise but the car was just as big!

Now that I had my independence, I was afraid to use it. When I first started driving, I was deathly afraid of driving on the highway, but I did not have the patience to take local roads everywhere; that was not practical.

I'm going down memory lane again.

I'm a newlywed and we are a one car household. I tried using public transportation in suburbia, but what would normally take 20 minutes driving took 2 hours.  I was pregnant with my first child, and I thought this is for the birds, I have my license, I can drive. So a friend of ours was selling a car but she lived in Queens. At the time we lived in Long Island and we were about an hour's drive away from Queens. The plan was that we would go to her house get the car and I would follow my husband back home on as many local roads as possible. Realistically there was no way to do this, but that was the plan. My poor husband (this is one of the ways I know that he loves me), he drove so slowly that day so that I could keep up with him. And at one point I had to merge and nearly got us killed. I can laugh now but it was very nerve wracking then. One day I told myself something along the lines of, "All of these other people are out there driving and merging and changing lanes, why can't you?" "Don't be nervous, just remember what you learned."  The first time I did it, somebody blew their horn at me. I guess I cut them off. I made a mental note never to do that again, and I've been good ever since.

In terms of independence, driving has turned out to be everything I thought it would be and then some. As I drove out of the local parking lot, I smiled thinking about how far I've come.

I run in the path of your commands, for you have set my heart free. Psalm 119:32

Do you remember when you got your driver's license? Did you get it on the first try? Why was it important for you to learn to drive? Supposed you had never learn to drive, how different would your life be?


  1. Beautifully written n' inspiring!


  2. Guess what?! I'm writing this post in several years! I'm serious!

    I'm very, very close to getting my license (yeah I know) I need to figure out the parallel parking thing but once I pass I have a feeling we are going to have the same exact story!


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