Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Drive

In June of my 16th year I got my driver’s license.  I couldn’t wait.  We lived kind of far out in the country, and it was a pain to get rides to get together with my friends, who lived near town and all the action.  I wanted to drive; I needed to drive.  And I loved it.

The next few years were spent putting thousands of miles on our car driving back and forth from home to school to the mall to the parties to the nearest city, where we invariably got lost, because along with my driver’s license I had a terrible sense of direction and never paid attention to road names or signs.

When I graduated from high school my friend and I would drive into the wee morning hours, picking a back road and driving it for a while, then another, then another.  We listened to music and talked and solved all of the world’s problems and none of our own.

I moved out west; driving across the country and back was always an adventure.  Once our van was burglarized and I lost all the clothes I had packed for college.  Once my friend and I got stopped in New Mexico by a guy who told us we had a headlight out and guided us to an over-priced garage, surely a scam.  Once I cried because I ate too many Combos and king-sized Kit Kat bars on our road trip and just wanted a steak.  Once my kid brother and I stopped at a motel in Terre Haute, Indiana at one in the morning, the only one with vacancy, only to find a dirty towel on the bathroom door and bugs in the bed.  We got our money back and drove the rest of the way home.  We pulled into our parents’ driveway at 9 am, sleep-deprived zombies.

My dad loves to drive too.  As a kid he drove us everywhere, and not always on the roads.  We would pile into our red station wagon and drive it up and down steep wooded hillsides certainly not meant to be traversed by such an ordinary vehicle.  We’d drive out to towns we’d never heard of, always using the back way.  We crisscrossed our little corner of the state over and over, radio blaring James Taylor and Kansas and America.  We knew all the words. 

My grandmother, in her 80s, loves to drive.  She owned a house in Florida that she and her sister and mother would drive to each February, a two-day drive.  Now the house and her loved ones are gone, and she still drives every day, shopping and returning items and going to the movies and eating at chain restaurants in towns 25 miles away.


Today my children and I drove across the state so they could meet their grandparents for vacation.  I looked forward to the drive.  I loved the time spent in the car with my kids, even though we had to play the quiet game twice.  I drove home singing all the songs I know on the radio, which were a lot.  Each of them marked memories in my life, many of them spent behind the wheel, driving and driving and driving.   

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10 comments:

  1. I have never felt comfortable behind the wheel of a car. I didn't get my license until I was 19 and never really drove until after I after 21. I didn't miss it. While I like the ability to drive places, I seldom do because I don't find the experience enjoyable. Perhaps if I'd grown up far away from everyone my mindset would be different.

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    1. I know plenty of people who don't enjoy driving for different reasons. For instance, my husband has a long commute, and traffic is always terrible, and he hates it. I think I love it because I associate it with my childhood, and because it gives me such an intense feeling of freedom. I can go anywhere behind the wheel of my car.

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  2. I have mixed feelings about driving. I like the long-ish ones on vacation, because we'll be going somewhere we've never been before, and the landscape, always a nice surprise. I hate sitting in traffic though, so I hate driving in my city.

    I can't imagine not driving though. It's freedom!

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    1. Driving in the city is a nightmare. It's often quicker to walk to your destination. And the parking - madness!

      We have fairly congested highways where I live, and I don't mind it so much, but then again, I don't have to brave it every day.

      But you're right - the freedom!



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  3. I adore road trips! I grew up taking long trips from Indiana to New Jersey or Florida to visit family. However, that was before car seats and mandatory seat belts, so my sister and I would roll around on the folded-out seat in the big van, or facing backward in the station wagon. Ah, good memories.

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    1. Yes! We took a fair amount of road trips too. The backward facing station wagon seat was very much coveted in our family, especially when my little brother came along...

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  4. I love to drive. Especially when I'm sad or homesick for when I was a kid. I'll turn on the classic country station and drive the back roads.

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  5. I used to love to drive - anywhere, anytime. As I got older, I started to get more nervous and I don't even know why. Maybe it was becoming a mother. Suddenly the car and the road were potential objects of destruction that could end in something horrible. Maybe it's because we live near a major Interstate and every so often there is invariably a horrible crash. I just don't know. Every now and then, though, I find myself enjoying driving again and remembering how I loved it once upon a time.

    I definitely like driving better when there are not kid songs blasting from the radio for the nineteenth time in a single day, though.

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    1. Driving is much more enjoyable when there's not someone in the backseat barking orders or taking over the radio.

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