Drivin’ and Cryin’

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I have a confession to make. I don’t really like to drive. Oh, I can drive, mind you; in fact, I got my driver’s license in a VW beetle with a stick shift. And apparently I’m pretty good at it: in thirty-eight years behind the wheel, I’ve never had a wreck. But I don’t take any particular pleasure in the act of driving. It gets me where I want to go, and that’s it. I’ll never be like my dad, who loves to get out and drive in ice and snow just to show the neighbors he can, or my son, who when moving his car across the country took turns driving with my husband, but insisted on doing the driving through Nashville, Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, and Denver himself.
 
But I’ll go a step further than that, and admit that while I never got any particular joy out of driving in my hometown of Cullman,  Alabama, the prospect of driving in large cities scares me spitless. I still remember my first time driving in Mobile, which is a big city compared
to the town I grew up in. I was on Interstate 65 just getting into the city traffic when the heavens opened and the floods descended. A few months of living in Mobile would teach me that this is typical summer weather for the Gulf Coast, but at that time I didn’t know that all I had to do was pull over and wait, and it would all be gone in ten minutes. All I knew was that it was raining so hard my windshield wipers couldn’t keep up, and I couldn’t see more than a few feet in front of me. Which is why I was driving down I-65 singing “Jesus, Hold My Hand.” But I got more accustomed with time, and by the time we moved away from Mobile almost thirty years later, I was unfazed even by Airport Boulevard at rush hour.
 
Fast forward to May 2012, and my first solo trip to Denver. Mind you, it took nothing less than a writer’s conference–and with it the opportunity to meet other local writers–to make me set out from Loveland on the hour-long trek down I-25. I had just sighted the conference hotel and was congratulating myself on having successfully navigated the trip when my GPS guide, Carmen the Garmin, let me down. It seems the street she was telling me to turn on had a sign calling it by a completely different name, and so I didn’t recognize my turn until I was already past it. Carmen rolled her eyes, huffed “Recalculating,” and proceeded to take me on a very roundabout journey back.
 
After I arrived at the hotel, I was fine (a little shaky, but fine) until time to go home that evening, when I found myself in the second-to-the-right lane of a highway with five lanes going in each direction. In order to make a left-hand turn onto northbound I-25, I had to position myself in the far left lane, so that I could scoot into one of the two lanes (for anyone who’s counting, that would be lane number 6 or 7) that formed the ramps onto I-25. With very little room in which to get over, I put on my blinker, gritted my teeth, and  swerved across three lanes of traffic. Success! One very nice man in a pickup truck even held back to let me cut in front of him. Or maybe he was just scared of me. Either way, within an hour I was home, having driven to Denver and back and lived to tell the tale.

I don’t doubt that there will be other times I’ll have to drive to Denver, and I don’t doubt that I’ll be just as terrified as I was that first time. But with each experience, I’ll get a little more confident, just as I did with driving in Cullman as a teenager and in Mobile as a young adult.
That’s the way it is with things that push you out of your comfort zone: eventually you get a bigger comfort zone.

What do you sometimes have to do that makes you uncomfortable? How do you handle it? Inquiring minds want to know!



6 thoughts on “Drivin’ and Cryin’

  1. I had to take driving lessons when we moved to Germany, even though I’d been driving with confidence for decades. The sheer speed on the Autobahn combined with aggressive driving in often rainy weather intimidated me. My instructor kept telling me not to worry about drivers behind me nearly kissing my bumper.
    I learned. I drove at speeds I’d never expected. I did just fine.
    But when we moved to California and I had to drive on the freeways there … I was terrified! I relate! I’d take surface streets for over an hour to avoid a ten minute drive on the 405.
    Eventually I learned. I drove. I survived. But I was WAY OUTSIDE my comfort zone.

    • Maryjo, my dad used to have to make business trips to California from time to time. I remember his thoughts on driving in Los Angeles: “Driving in L.A. is easy. You just put your foot on the gas, your hand on the horn, and go!”
      No, thanks!

    • Ella, it sounds like you & your husband have found a good way to divide the driving. I always let my husband drive through cities, but I still try to “help” him by pointing out braking cars ahead, signs indicating we need to change lanes, etc. I’m sure he wishes I would either drive, or shut up and let him do it!

  2. Sis, you blog just like you talk! Lol! As far as driving goes, since I also got my driving experience in good ‘ol Cullman, AL, I am extremely proud to say I can drive Birmingham, AL like a pro. Even Hwy 280 at 5pm! All I had to do was marry an engineer at the Alabama State Dept of Transportation and he held my hand the WHOLE WAY! Now I even impress Daddy!

  3. “That’s the way it is with things that push you out of your comfort zone: eventually you get a bigger comfort zone.”
    Loved that comment. It is so true. I grew up loving to drive and was fearless in any traffic situation. I drove a lot in the city of Detroit. Need I say more? However, now that we have retired to a very small town in East Texas, I deplore driving in city traffic. When we go to the Dallas area to visit our kids, I am perfectly happy letting them transport us from place to place.

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