Yes, my tale of myself and being behind an automobile starts rather pathetically to the untrained eye. I started driver's ed at 15 1/2 like everyone else my age and did my behind-the-wheel. My sweet sixteen came and went and because of an emotional breakdown my sophomore year, I didn't take my road test right away.
Come my junior year though, I started driving again (almost everyday down that shitty bumpy Hampton road to DSHA) with my mother almost always in the passenger's seat, subconsciously slamming her foot down on an invisible break pedal. She once, after lots of practice that is, told me I was a good driver and that was one of the best compliments she could give me. My mom was a fantastic driver, getting my family through many a snow/ice storm and through a tornado one summer night.
My mom wasn't one to give fake compliments, except for the usual "You're the most beautiful girl in the world," "You can do what ever you set your mind to," and the dreaded, "They're just jealous of you." No, mamma, I'm not in the list of People's Most Beautiful; I cannot be a famous soccer player even if I tried, I promise you; and those girls were not jealous of awkward middle school me, they were just bitches. She told me I looked stupid when I ran, but praised my acting and writing skills. So saying I was a good driver, coming from her, meant the world to me.
My first road test was April 10, 2008 and I failed because of uncontrolled intersections (living in a suburb with over-controlling parents a plenty, I hardly encounter them). My mother comforted me, helped me schedule another test for the next week, and drove me home. She let me sit in the car and cry for a good twenty minutes and sulk; I'm so grateful that she always got that I hate being touched when I'm upset.
The next morning when I woke up, my mom was dead.
The next two road tests I had were practically back-to-back and every time I got into the car with one of those instructors, I freaked. I took another a few months later to no avail. Fast forward two years and I still had no license. My stepmom finally convinced me to try again and I did last summer...and barely failed. I swore to myself I would never try again and driving simply wasn't for me. After much prodding, I tried again and finally passed my road test at nineteen.
The fact that I failed my road test five times does not mean I'm a bad driver even if I joke about it sometimes; I failed because it reminded me of my mother's death and then after so many fails, I lost confidence in myself during the test. Now though, it's my first summer with my driver's license (which yes, I guess does sound a bit sad since I'm twenty years old). Almost every day this summer, I've driven somewhere, whether it's dropping the youngins off, running an errand, or going to a friend's house. I love every second of it.
I'll be the first to tell you that I suck with directions and am the very definition of geographically challenged. If I've gone somewhere by myself once I can get back there but otherwise I'll need specific directions. Also, it doesn't help if you yell, "But we've been there a million times before!" Yeah, I fucking get it, but I don't stare out the goddamn window paying attention to every passing sign in anticipation for future ventures to that neck of the woods when in the car. If I do get lost, I panic and have to resist crying (I also cry easily...that I will admit is rather ridiculous), but I will eventually get myself where I need to go. I'm never afraid to ask for directions, mainly because I'd be fucked if I didn't.
Iowa City is great because if you wander around it enough, you know where you're going. Whitefish Bay and Milwaukee in general? As long as I remember WFB is north of downtown and that the lake is east, I'm good for the most part. But Cork city? God knows how many times I had to call and ask my friends, who were already sitting in the pub, how to get to fucking Tom Barry's. There was the river Lee right outside of our apartment complex and when getting directions, people would always reference the river.
Would you believe me if I said it took me til March to realize the river circled all around the city and thus was the source of all my confusion? Hey, I never said I was the brightest. Regardless, I'm not that great with directions, but a lot of the time I like getting lost as long as I'm not on a time constraint. Driving at night is terrifying since I'm scared of the dark and those freaking yellow blinking stoplights always startle me. Yet any time I get behind the wheel and turn the key in the ignition, I feel my mother next to me in the passenger seat smiling at her eldest daughter and hoping to God that she doesn't crash the car. I talk to myself constantly in the car with some Rihanna or Bruno Mars song playing in the background.
Driving doesn't scare me like it used to and though I'll probably never be as good as my mommy, I'm proud that I overcame that fear. She's the one who taught me to drive, and I know she's happy I'm finally driving...even if I don't always know where I'm going.