Adventures & Travel Identity Inspiration

On learning to drive at twenty-eight

Not driving until 28 has really made me who I am today. First of all, I am forever grateful to all the loved ones that have picked me up in the rain, and even in the sunshine, so that I didn’t have to walk. To my mom and sister and husband and friends that have gone out of their way to get me on the way to an adventure or who have come to visit me at my house because I couldn’t get to their house via regional rail. I know it wasn’t always convenient for everyone to go out of their way to get me, but in a way, it made us all spend more time together – which is kinda cool. Sean and I have always gone to the food store together, I got to spend extra time with my mom when I was pregnant because she would drive me to and from the train on her way to and from work, and that semester when my sister and niece met me at the train station after work and drove me to class each Wednesday was so fun because seeing them was always the highlight of my day.

Most people were shocked to learn that I didn’t drive over the years. “How do you do things?” They’d ask. Sometimes I had to be creative (like the giant red shopping cart when we lived in center city, or bags over my shoes, or extra shoes,etc) and other times I was really lucky to have a loved one help me out. I may not have contributed my time as a driver, but I like to think I contribute in other ways like providing entertainment, bringing a treat, buying coffee, or telling funny stories (mainly stories that I acquired while riding public transportation).

Let’s see, there was the creepy guy on my train that used to lean over my shoulder and comment on the articles I read – that was freaky, or the loud mouthed ladies that all sit together and complain about everything all the way to and all the way from work, the freaky fingernail lady that got on at Olney or the elderly cell phone talkers that think the people on the other end can only hear you if you yell into the phone.

Whenever I had to get somewhere, the first thoughts that went through my mind were: does the train/bus go there….is there a sidewalk….how close is the station to where I need to get…will it be safe…what time is the last train in case I stay late…hope I don’t miss the train…hope I get a seat…if I fall asleep, hope I wake up…etc. But those things never really bothered me, they were just a part of my lifestyle. My dad didn’t drive until after he was 50, so we always took the bus places or walked a lot when we were little and it was all very normal to me.

When I became a mom, I knew it was time. Time to put away the fear and learn to do it and that’s when I met Angel, my driving instructor. I can’t really put into words how it felt to learn to drive but the second I passed the test, tears came to my eyes. I felt like a silly kid at the overcrowded DMV in Northeast Philadelphia on February 11, 2012 as the instructor walked me up to the counter. I got to bypass the line and talk to the guy at the counter right away! I stood there all smiles as he inappropriately hit on me, I thought it was hilarious when usually I would get kinda mad at stuff like that. He was pretty old, but I didn’t even care! Then I went to get my picture and asked for a do over because I didn’t look as happy as I felt. The guy behind the camera didn’t care for me too much when I said, “I don’t look happy and I feel REALLY happy, can we take it again?!” I hopped out of there so happily that nothing could have brought me down. I held that little temporary license in my hand the whole ride home and walked through the door to my house holding it so tight. When I saw Sean and held it up and said, “I passed!!!” he smiled so big and I could tell how happy he was. I kissed our little boy, Brady, on the head and told him how I did it for him.

A major hurdle for me has been jumped. I am still in a bit of shock but ultimately, I’m in a state of accomplishment (if there is such a state) and I feel so proud of me. I’m not sure that anyone can/could really relate to my fear of driving. Most people looked so confused when I’d share that fear with them but we all have that one thing that scares you more than anything in the world and you will do anything to avoid facing it – not because you are lazy or stupid or don’t want to but because you are literally so fearful that it is almost crippling. For me, that was driving. I am so grateful that an Angel was sent my way.

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