The Friday Confessional is probably well known by now as a very soul baring exercise in writing. Today, I’d like to talk to about something rather embarrassing for me.
A major milestone in most people lives happens at the tender age of sixteen. There’s the sweet sixteen, usually accompanied by the awesome responsibility that comes with a person’s first driver’s permit. And the teenager blossoms into an adult as they take on that adult responsibility and freedom of driving.
I am nearly 30, and I never learned how to drive.
Originally, it wasn’t because of my lack of enthusiasm. The prospect of the freedom that was associated with driving was intoxicating. It was all I could ever want, being able to drive. I could take myself places and not have to rely on anyone else. It would open up new worlds to me, and allow me to do so many things I had always dreamed of. I could pick my boyfriend up and see him more than twice a week. We could go park somewhere and maybe make out for awhile.
My mother doesn’t drive, and my father refused to use his precious vehicle to teach me. I was crushed. They claimed they didn’t think I was responsible enough to take on driving. But, as with everything else, it was an excuse not to allow me to have any kind of breathing room. They could continue to circle me like vultures for my remaining two years in that house, ever judging and scrutinizing me while I remained under their thumb.
I was stuck for any options to circumvent this decision. There is a law in Pennsylvania that prohibits teens from teaching other teens how to drive. Most of my friends were under 18, and those who weren’t didn’t have their own cars at their disposal. It seemed that I would have to wait indefinitely to gain all of that freedom that I craved so deeply.
Time passed, and most of my friends still remained as pedestrians. It used to be easy in a city like Pittsburgh to get by without a car. Most of the places anyone would want to go were accessible via bus. And taking the bus was infinitely cheaper than owning and maintaining a car. College came and went without a driver’s license.
Once out of college, I had already developed an alcohol problem. Driving became less important. My job was within walking distance, and everything else wasn’t quite as important anymore. Most of my friends had their own license, and the responsibility of driving seemed to great for a person who was perpetually drunk. It didn’t matter to me anyway. I was broke, and there was no way I could possibly afford a vehicle of my own to drive.
More time passed. I got married, had a kid, and jobs came and went as I settled into family life. The need for a license started weighing on me, as I was begging for more favors from people with vehicles. I lived poorly and saved every last penny to buy my very first car. And eventually, I got it. I paid outright to avoid financing. It was a black 2000 Volkswagen Jetta. It was beautiful and one of those 0 to 60 in ten second cars. It would have been perfect for street racing, as it was the sport edition. Of course, that wasn’t the plan. The plan was to get my license in the spring.
A whole year passed without any attempt on my part to get my license. The idea started filling me with dread. How could I possibly drive while so incredibly medicated? I had just started treatment that year, and I was foggy most of the time. I couldn’t focus on a task for more than a few minutes at a time. Driving seemed to be an impossible task that had become far out of my reach.
Then, it happened. The car that I had paid in full was totalled in an accident with Xan. I was devastated. It was my very first car, and we had hardly seen more than a year with it. I was supposed to learn how to drive with that car. It was compact and would have been perfect for my needs as a driver. But, no more. The car was completely gone.
For awhile, we borrowed my MIL’s car. I refused to begin learning on that car. It didn’t matter, because fall was coming. I was beyond hesitant to start to learn how to drive in inclimate weather. The car didn’t feel entirely safe, and I was too nervous about the possibility of getting into an accident with it. It would have been different if it was the Jetta.
That car died too. It died up on a rack during an inspection, just a few months after we borrowed it. It turns out that the undercarriage was completely rusted out. The car was in such bad shape that we didn’t even get charged for the failed inspection. Instead, the mechanic told Xan to get the car out of there, and get rid of it as fast as he could.
We were at the lot that day. The problem with the car was that it wasn’t even ours. There was no possible way we could trade in the car, even with the express permission of the owner. Instead, we had to eat the entire cost of a down payment. It seemed that there wouldn’t be yet another Christmas in the Stark household.
We drove off of the lot in another dream car, a 2006 Chrysler PT Cruiser. My driver’s education teacher in high school owned a different years when they were brand new. I had always admired that car. It cost the same as the other, lesser cars in the lot. I’m not a fan of Chevy’s and that’s all they wanted to give us. But, I didn’t really want to buy another car. I wanted the Jetta back. But that was impossible. It was wrecked beyond repair, with a bent frame and the entire driver’s side crushed in.
Almost another year has passed, and I still haven’t learned how to drive. This time, it wasn’t for lack of a car. It wasn’t a person standing in my way. In fact, Xan has been more than supportive in this endeavor. It is me standing in my own way.
I still don’t have my permit. And every time I think about the possibility of getting it, I cringe. I’m on so many medications, and most of the time, I’m falling asleep in the car anymore. I’m so nervous that I can’t concentrate. Even just imagining driving fills me with anxiety.
I’m Lulu, I’m in my late 20’s, and I can’t drive.