Driving School Dropout

Although I pretty much always feel embarrassed about something or uncool, I don’t think anything has caused me as much embarrassment than the fact that I am 23 and do not have my driver’s license.

I have always thought that if something starts off well, then it can and will, in all probability, only get worse. Perhaps this is a pessimistic way of looking at things, but it has held true for most of my life and my driver’s license test was no different. I got a 100 on the written part and I was pretty pleased with myself. Maybe my head got too big and it caused me to be unable to concentrate on the actual driving aspect of the test, which some would argue is far more important than the written. Then, perhaps I just didn’t practice enough. I’m willing to bet it was the latter.

As soon as I got in the car, I just had a bad feeling. Being only 5 ft tall at the time, I knew I needed to move my seat forward. “But how?” I asked myself, over and over again. “You’ve done this before, Eliza…” I offered myself words of encouragement as I finally located and  pulled the lever underneath my seat, moving it forward, hands trembling. I did it! My unwarranted sense of pride was short-lived; it was over as soon as I put my foot to the gas and started the car with such a jolt that it prompted the driving instructor, named Skip, to say, “Whoa, slow down.” I tried not to let this faze me, and figured he was just in a bad mood.

I was instructed to drive up a hill and around the corner. I was feeling pretty good when I went into the parking lot. I knew I was about to be tested on my parking abilities. Parking was when I felt the most confident about driving. It didn’t require you to deal with other moving vehicles too much and it didn’t require that much speed or actual driving. I was asked to back into any spot of my choosing and I did so with ease. Skip was surprised.

Next, things took a turn for the worst. As we came to an intersection with two consecutive sets of lights, I suddenly became confused about where to stop. I didn’t stop at the first set, even though the lights were blinking red. After Skip yelled at me a little, I stopped at the next set of lights. Even though I was pretty sure this was a bad sign, I somehow convinced myself I could still pass. Once the light turned green I figured I should ask Skip if I could go, just to make sure. Also maybe he was angry because I wasn’t talking to him that much. My sister, who had taken the test the previous week and had passed, had talked to Skip a lot. So, I figured now was as good a time as any to pick up the conversation. It was clear this wasn’t a good idea when Skip didn’t answer, just sort of rolled his eyes that were magnified by his gigantic glasses. Geez, I thought to myself, somebody is moody.

I made it back to the driving school, my hands tired from both gripping the wheel and holding desperately to the hope that I had passed. But as soon as Skip started talking I knew my driving dreams were about to be crushed. As soon he said, “I really hate doing this…” the tears started flowing, and I honestly cannot remember anything he said after that. All I know is, I failed and I never wanted to go back. Never. So, I didn’t.

Fast forward seven years, and I still don’t have my license. Going to college in New York City, a license wasn’t strictly necessary. I imagined I’d live there my whole life. All I needed was a Metrocard and a pathetic, throw in the towel non-drivers ID in order to get into bars. But, now living at home in Connecticut I’m realizing a license is necessary. If I want to be able to move anywhere of my choosing and not be limited by the simple fact that I can’t drive then I need my license. If I want to explore America and go on a road trip, then I need my license. If I want to go to the mall and no one is willing to drive me, then I need my license. If I want to be an independent, adult woman, then I need my license.

I’m ready to conquer my fears. Tomorrow I go to an adult driving class.

(Image via Nickelodeon.)