Another prompt I really had to think about! Well done. My first few memories as a child are too embarrassing to put on the internet, so I thought I’d go a little more “on brand” and talk about all the times I tried to learn how to drive.
The first memory I have of putting my hands on the steering wheel is a bit foggy. I was a wee lass, sitting in my grandmother’s lap, in the drivers’ seat. As one did in the early ’80s I suppose. I had my hands on the wheel and we crept down the alley behind our house.
Many years later, I got my learner’s permit, and went out on a handful of test drives in the “Growler”. The growler was an older model rust red pickup truck. My heart raced every time I drove, but I did successfully parallel park on my first try.
Next up, after watching the movie Gone in 60 Seconds in the theater, I got the notion I’d try driving stick-shift in the parking lot of the theater. I think I almost hit a tree, confused between the clutch and the brake.
A couple of years went by, I let my learners’ lapse, got a new one, and tried again. This time I had to take a course that shared all the dangers of train crossings, since I then resided in a state with a lot of trains, and not a lot of marked crossings. I guess that course worked because I still get anxious when I come to a train crossing.
Many, many, many years passed (like, 15 at least) and I was still not a driver. I lived in a city with great public transportation and had friends willing to be the pilot in wild driving adventures. I didn’t really need to get over my anxiety of controlling a death machine and my own temper.
I tell you what though. When you buy a house, and you try to do renovations without a car, that changes your perspective a little bit. Try carrying 2x4s and other supplies on a city bus. Plus, I’d spent years learning how to better manage my reactions to stress. And, I had a roomate who I trusted implicitely to be patient with me and show me how to drive for real.
This time I was determined to see it through. I passed all the required written tests and logged the necessary driving hours. The requirements changed an awful lot since I was a teenager, and I was the proud recipient of a provisional driver’s license for two years. At my age, it didn’t mean a whole lot (for a teenager it came with a lot more rules about who could ride with you and when you could drive.) I just had to make sure I didn’t cause any accidents or traffic violations. Or, I’d have to start all over again.
And yes, I was on that provisional drivers license when I drove across the US. But I drove mostly blue highways, and only got on the interstate toward the end of the trip.
If you’re wondering, I managed to get through the two years of a provisional license without issue and I’ve had a real, honest-to-goodness, driver’s license for about 3 years now.