Scaring myself again: Driving

I have a  bit of a phobia about driving.  Although I grew up in the suburbs, I was never eager to get my license.  I didn’t like not being able to see quite where the car ended.  I hated dealing with other drivers.

But then I took some lessons with a great teacher and I was psyched. “I love driving!” I announced to my parents after a particularly successful lesson.

I should have taken the test right after that, but my parents made me wait and practice more.  Practice with them.

A typical driving situation with my mother:

Mom, holding onto her seatbelt for dear life: “Slow down! SLOW DOWN! SLOW DOWN!!!”

Of course I was made even more nervous driving with either of my parents.  Once I got too close to side and ran over a gutter.  It was an accident.  I was inexperienced, but still my mother lost it like I had done it on purpose.

“My car!” she screamed to my father.  “She damaged my car!”

Since I went to college in Manhattan, not having my license wasn’t that big of a deal. In fact, many of my friends didn’t have theirs either, though they had the excuse of having grown up in a city.  I graduated, got a job, and moved to Boston, where I *still* didn’t need a license.  Ha, suckers! But not having one hung over my head, if only because my ex was obsessed about it, and people found it weird.

I went to China (where I *still* didn’t need to drive), and when I returned, I was determined to get my license.  I took lessons again, despite my ex’s insistence that I didn’t need them, and had another awesome teacher.  I gained back some confidence, used the same car I learned on for the test, and finally, FINALLY, got my license.

I was 27.

After that, I still didn’t love driving, and wanted to avoid it as much as possible.  This would have been easy if I had stayed single and lived in the city.  But I moved out to Westchester and married my ex, who expected me to drive much more than I did.  I tried – mostly to the grocery store – but not hard enough.  My non-drivingness was a point of contention to the bitter end.

So when I met MB and found out he also doesn’t like to drive, I was tremendously relieved.  We could be weird non-drivers together!  We could avoid the issue forever!

Till now.

Last week my workplace held a team building event, which involved batting cages, mini-golf, and go-karts.

Yes, go-karts, a smaller version of that thing I hate.

I thought I could get out of it.  “I’ll go play some arcade games,” I said.

No such luck.

I wasn’t nervous about flipping my car or anything like that.  What concerned me was being the slow poke that others got stuck behind. I imagined everyone’s cars lined up behind me, beeping and honking (although we didn’t have horns).

But I had nothing to worry about.  Somehow, luckily, I ended up being last.  Not on purpose.  I was busy getting our tokens and tickets together since I was the one who arranged the event.  Plus they make sure there’s enough of a buffer between drivers so that we wouldn’t catch up with each other.

Still, sitting in the car, I was anxious.  I could barely reach the pedals, but one of the guys noticed and gave me a cushion.  Much better!  I inched up with the others.  Then it was my turn.  Red. . .yellow. . .green. . .GO!

And you know what?  It was fun as hell.  I was pretty slow, especially on the turns, but I didn’t care.  Maybe the others were watching me, but I felt like I was alone.  The sun on my face, the wind in my hair, the roar of the motor in my ears.  Plus it was much easier than real driving – no traffic, no worries about cutting someone off or getting cut off, no pedestrians.

No mom nagging me that I was going too fast.

We did five laps, and I felt myself improving with each one.  Faster! faster! my brain said.  I definitely wasn’t fast, at least compared to the others, but I had no one stuck behind me either.

Now do I want to run out and start driving all the time?  Not necessarily, but I would totally drive go-karts again.

1 comment

  1. […] his project inspired me to start doing more scary things, such as battling my driving phobia and getting behind the wheel for the first time in years (so it was a go-cart, a license was still required so there); breaking […]