I could hardly believe, but there I was. Sitting in the weathered brown leather driver’s seat of my dad’s 1998 Jeep, surrounded by the car’s white metal shell that he always kept at a gleaming shine, I felt both older and very young, as I was now in control of the formidable car that had driven me around since I was very young. Seated next to me, looking both very natural and uncomfortable at the same time, was a man who I didn’t know, although he did look like the friendly neighbor character from every sitcom I’d ever watched growing up, with his square glasses, mustache, and button-up shirt. As innocuous as he was, that man was my number one source of stress at the moment, as he held my future in his hands. He looked at me, I looked back at him, and he told me to start the car.
With this description, which accurately depicts how tense I was that day, it’s difficult to tell what I was in the car to do, but I’ll assure you, it was something simple, that millions (probably) of teenagers across the United States attempt every day, like clockwork: I was taking my driving test, so that I could finally get my license. While this may appear to be a relatively simple task and, looking back on it, it truly is, taking the driving test, and driving itself, was something that really bothered me before I finally took a deep breath and did it. The idea of steering a speeding hunk of metal, weaving amongst other hunks of metal, was something that really did not appeal to me, as you can tell by the way I described it.
Even now, that I’m older and (marginally) wiser, driving is still something that gives me a type of hesitance that I can’t really understand, like the primal fear that an animal might feel at the sight of a predator. Except, the act of driving a car isn’t a predator, it’s an action. But, either way, even something as a routine as the trip to the store that I took today requires at least ten minutes of psyching myself for it, which can last into my time behind the wheel (I’m a functioning member of society, I promise).
Either way, regardless of my neuroses, as a human being living in the 21st century, driving truly is a necessity (or a necessary evil), so I let myself do what I do best, beside worry, and overprepared. I did laps around parking lots, I obsessively drove the streets of my city, over and over and, in a final, desperate move, had a friend who had already taken the test show me the route. Finally, after literally months of preparation for a ten minute drive around the block, I was ready.
Which brings me back to the dramatic scenario I was describing earlier. The instructor nodded at me, and I turned the key in the ignition, allowing the Jeep to roar to life like a bear waking up from hibernation. Its rumbling growls echoed off the side of the DMV building, and I knew that, with all of my preparation and all of the power that had just come to life behind the steering wheel in my hands, I was ready.
And, I was. Maybe because of my newfound confidence, or most likely because I had over prepared and already knew the route by heart, but I had passed the test with flying colors, even though my hands started shaking when I finally parked and turned off the car.