So far in my 2 week experience of having a car in the city, I have been pleasantly surprised by the comfort and versatility in driving. In being the hipster and frugal person I am, I had never really had a car since high school. Sure there were spurts of going home and driving my parents’ car, but the idea of having a car always never sat with me. Over the years, I had increased skills in making puppy dog eyes to get rides and mastered the public transit system.
But there was the pain of dependency and uncomfortable seats (and fellow passengers). In my 2 years of working in the city, I could bear the 20 minutes or so sitting next to loud, obnoxious people and the smells of a bourbon snuck on in a paper bag. The unfair offenses of someone getting on for free or the conversations I overhear that yanked on my morality and beliefs were sometimes too much.
I liked having someone drive me everywhere. That was ideal.
But in the last 2 weeks in driving around by myself, I have finally mastered the feel of the driving. I drive well in the city, anticipating other cars and making the turns efficiently. Parallel parking is embarrassing.
But there was this comfortable feeling as I drove. This is my space. Pump up the Handsome Furs or ABBA. Nobody would mind. Nobody can tell if I am staring at them or picking my nose. Nobody says…anything. Because we are in our pods, our own environments in motion. I loved it.
On the way up from the South Bay today (while “beating” traffic and driving up 101 at 10 pm), I zoomed in the far left lane. Little traffic. I enjoyed the flow of cars, passing by me. It was easy. Just straight up the freeway and a few turns to my apartment (but difficult parking).
In front of me, I saw a van. At first, it swayed into my lane and then back into its lane. Then it steadied for a few moments and swayed again. I saw other cars around me…almost part as if the swaying van was parting the seas. I would rather be in front than in the back, I thought as the van swayed completely in my lane. No signals. It stayed there for a few moments, then swayed into its former lane as if it had never intended to change lanes in the first place. The van scooted left, then right.
When I was younger and perhaps more of an inexperienced driver, I would have many near death experiences…the near misses of barely scratching a car or almost losing control. There was this unexplainable anxious feeling I would get. An incredible fear that tensed every muscle in my body, my eyes alert, the adrenaline so incredibly high. Then the danger passed, but I hated the feeling.
There was once someone who said, “A drive that is uneventful is the best drive of all.” I disliked that someone for so many years, who had insisted that I should not be driving and recommended that I stay off the streets. My resentment had built up for many years when I would almost not drive anyone any around. And yet driving was so freeing—I could go anywhere.
On the 101 tonight, I gripped my wheel as I passed the van. Pushing the gas all the way down. Chris said that I should have reported the van, but I didn’t know how. I hated the fear that my death could come any moment. I would rather lay the responsibility elsewhere. As I sped toward the city, I saw the fog rise above the freeway in the partially moonlit night.