A long time ago, I learned to drive. Somewhat. I got a license at any rate. And then I lost it, and then I forgot about it, and then I got a new one, and then it sat in my wallet. I did take it out sometimes, to prove that I’m old enough to drink and so on. But I never tried to drive anything.
But all of that is changing. Last week, I started learning to drive again. And the first two lessons went beautifully and I was beginning to believe I’m a natural at this. But then I had lesson #3. There was third gear and car stalling and abrupt braking and trucks and highway and things, and I got fucking stressed out.
There’s many reasons why I don’t think I’m built for driving. I won’t go into all of them because honestly, we none of us have that much time. But here are some of the biggies.
- I’m bad at multi-tasking. I’m really good at keeping an eye on the road, and having a conversation, and stepping on the brake and clutch and accelerator, and changing gears, and looking at the rearview mirrors, but I’d just rather not do them all together.
- I have no sense of direction. I don’t mean that I don’t remember the ways to places, because sometimes I do (though mostly I don’t.) I mean that I have no sense of direction. Literally. Most people have a mental map of their surroundings, and a little pin on it labelled ‘Me’. I just have the pin. And it sort of floats around in large emptyish spaces called ‘Home’ or ‘Office’ or ‘Train’. If you make me drive up and down the same highway three times, you’ll have to tell me when to take a u-turn every single time. This seems to confuse my instructor a bit. Oh well.
- I am a crazy, screaming ball of nerves. I brake for every little bump in the road and sometimes don’t notice giant triple speedbreakers. I let every driver pass me. I slow down for dogs who are really not anywhere near my car, and for people who are crossing thirty feet away, and for big palm leaves in the road. And everytime the car stalls (three times yesterday) I panic a little.
All things considered, I have decided that I need some extra practice, even when I’m not at the wheel. So today on my way home, I sat in the back of the rick and pretended to be driving. Just the gears and clutch/brake/accelerator. I shifted up and down and braked and speeded up based on how the rick guy was driving. I did it for about 20 minutes, till my feet got tired and then the guy was driving too fast for me anyway. I haven’t tried 5th gear yet.
I hope my armchair practice session helps. I hope I drive like I’m chilling today, like a boss, like a pro, like road tripping hippie. Who knows. This might seriously work out, and it might become a Thing. Maybe someday you’ll ask someone if they know me and they’ll say ‘Oh yeah, the Girl Who Drives.’