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!
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.