Here’s another first-time ever moment: driving around the neighborhood, solo. All last week, I moved back home for the last few weeks of first year and started commuting like a big girl.
I’ve had my driver’s license since sophomore year of college, when I was, 19? Not like I needed it in the city, but I wanted to get the show on the road and get my card. The first time I stepped in my dad’s car, I drove onto my front lawn. Then, it took two road tests for me to finally pass. The first time, I screwed up barely 1 minute into my test, when I drove down the wrong fork. After some pleading to my unsympathetic instructor, he told me gruffly, “Sorry, I can’t let you pass. You could have caused some serious dangers…” God, I had a 50/50 shot of going down the right fork, and I knew perfectly well which direction I came in too, but I made a stupid mistake and drove down the incoming road. Then I lied to my parents, to save my shattered integrity, that I failed on parallel parking. For the rest of that summer, my dad took me to every parked car in the neighborhood and let me practice my parallel parking. Well, I had that perfected… and my second road test.
To my parents, I’m still an inexperienced driver. Why yes, I agree, I am a virgin driver. That’s why my dad has been consistently by my side whenever I hit the road. I roll through stop signs. I hit potholes. I speed past a stale green light. I drive too slowly. I can drive too quickly too. I twitch at honks. I sweat when a huge truck or bus is in the next lane over. I watch out for pedestrians and bikers. I’m a careful, safe driver who still has room to grow. But finally, I had the taste of hitting a solo show and it felt goooood. First, I’m surprised at how knowledgeable I am with getting around, following directions, and finding landmarks. Second, I don’t think I’m a true New Yorker, aggressive and gruff; I’m a Californian at heart, laid-back sun-soaker. I like to roll down my windows and let the wind blow through my hair. I like to pump up the volume of my radio and karaoke in my car. At first, I was jamming to K-pop songs, but that felt awkward with passing drivers who probably heard me sing in different languages. So now I attune myself to mainstream American songs on the radio, some old-time classics like Madonna or modern hits like Maroon 5 or Bruno Mars.
Sadly the one thing I still stumble over is parking. It’s not hard to drive in between the lines. I don’t understand how my dad and men can cruise into a parking spot, perfectly. I like to park like a rockstar…