You may remember that I have a little bit of a thing about driving. The "thing," to be more specific, is that I hate it. Or I guess just fear it, whatever, same difference. I wrote about it in 2007, and then again in 2008—by which point I hated-slash-feared it even more, despite a grandiose promise to myself in the 2007 post that I was going to get better at it and, I don't know, win a hundred medals in driving or something—and then I didn't really write about it anymore and I sort of just figured that I'd be a driving hater-slash-fearer for the rest of my life and that would be that.
But guess what? That was not that. And in case you've been thinking "gee, I wonder how Holly feels about driving these days and if she ever managed to get her hate-slash-fear of it under control"—and I imagine this is often top of your mind, right up there with the global financial crisis and when the new season of Mad Men returns (wait, I know this one: April 7th!)—I thought I would tell you the joyous news.
Friends, I am fully cured! I can drive again!
(Did you imagine me saying that in a sort of Matthew-Crawley-I-can-walk-again! voice? I hope you did. It doesn't really work otherwise.)
It's true, though: I no longer have a thing about driving. Much like the rest of the world, I kind of just....get in my car and go. It's been a long time coming—and also a slow time coming—but I am happy to say that it's really just kind of not a big deal for me anymore, or at least not as big a deal as it used to be. Part of it is that we moved to a different part of the city, one where the streets are wider and flatter and way less clogged with angry city traffic—and also there is abundant parking so one never has to worry about parallel parking backwards up a hill with honking traffic gathering behind one, not that this ever happened to me or anything (of course it did)—but most of it is just that the more I did it, the less I was scared of it. It's like anything, I guess: you just practice and practice and practice, until one day you notice you're not breathing into a paper bag while you're doing it.
Up until a few months ago, I admit, I pretty much just followed a few timeworn routes I knew like the back of my hand—house to grocery store; house to Target; Target to grocery store to house; Target to TJ Maxx, you know, the essentials—but then I started to branch out a little and go further, take routes I didn't know, drive—gasp!—through the packed city at rush hour. It all sounds so silly now that I'm recounting it—ooh, big deal, you did what most people do every day of their lives—but you have to understand that driving had been a HUGE, HUGE, HUGE mental block for me for the past six years. I would have actual nightmares about merging onto freeways. Okay, I still have actual nightmares about merging onto freeways. I guess the difference is that these days I'm not sweaty and crying when I wake up from them.
This weekend, I picked Sean up from the airport—an endeavor that involved two freeways, many in-the-dark lane changes, and a few unfamiliar loops of the terminal while I waited for him to come out—and I was so goddamn proud of myself, you'd think I'd won the Booker Prize for Literary Fiction. (You know, I originally typed "the Nobel Peace Prize" but then I had a little think about it, and maybe this is something I should be ashamed of, but I think I'd probably be prouder if I'd actually sat down and fought the procrastination I'd have to fight to be able to write literary fiction than I would be if I'd somehow brokered global peace.) On at least five or six occasions, I've driven myself the hour down the peninsula to work, an undertaking for which I award myself bonus points not only for the ridiculous traffic I have to navigate when I do it, but also for the number of people I have to witness who are sitting in this traffic with their fingers up their noses. (I mean, come on. Do they think there is some sort of PROTECTIVE BUBBLE OF TRAFFIC SITTING that means other drivers can't see them picking their noses?)
I'm not sure what the point of this post is, except to say that if you too are a, ahem, nervous driver—this is the euphemism I liked to use to describe myself, "spineless car-fearing milquetoast" being a little bit of a mouthful—I just want you to know that it might not always be this way. You might not always fear driving. Hey, if I can get over my anxiety about it, anyone can, and as an unexpected bonus, you may even start to like driving again. Listen, if nothing else about it sounds appealing, I can tell you this: it's way less awkward singing along to both parts of California Dreamin' when you're the only person in the car who can hear you do it.