a real-life adventure
Read Part XIX here.
Now available in ebook format!
Being carless for a while had its advantages. No car payments. No insurance payments. No weekly gas-guzzling road trips. No photo excursions. No film development costs. No rest stops at 7-11, where the kids would always beg for Big Gulps and candy bars.
I had plenty of savings for a healthy down payment.
The absence of emotional trauma driving likely would have caused compensated for the loss of livelihood. Or at least it seemed to. If Taz hadn't brought home the orchestra schedule with the prominent fall evening concert, the golden leaves of autumn probably would have tugged at something inside me with the same voracious force as my son's music.
Did I even remember how to drive? Would any insurance company come within a 100-mile radius of me? Did I really want to invest in a driveway ornament?
Jim, my children's adoption counselor who volunteered to help me get past my emotional roadblocks, had been encouraging me to practice getting inside a car. Baby steps, he reasoned. I would never be able to drive again if I couldn't get in a car. He kept telling me the longer I put it off, the more difficult it would be.
My first trip to a dealership was a complete flop. I couldn't get in any of the vehicles I studied. The following week, Jim said he wouldn't leave until I got in his car, put on the seat belt and sat there for five minutes.
Next he had to convince me to stay in his car while he drove to the nearest park and ride. Then came the big test. He wanted me to do donuts and figure eights.
"Come on! It's not raining! There are no kids in the car. There are no 18-wheelers here. This is the only car for miles around, and if you don't do it, I'm going to get out and walk home. You'll be here all alone, your kids will be home alone, and it will be dark in about an hour. You don't want to drive in the dark yet, do you?"
I started to cry. He got out of the car and began walking back to the street from whence we had come. He didn't even look back! What was he thinking?!?
I stewed for a few moments before throwing caution to the clear blue sky. There was no wind. I got out of the car, walked around to the other side, briefly hesitated, then got in the car. The rest was automatic. Including the transmission. I forgot there was no clutch, and I nearly went through the windshield when I stopped alongside Jim.
I didn't have to demand he get back in the car. He jumped in like a proud father.
"See? I told you that you can do it! Now, let's go do some donuts."
"I drove. That's enough for today. I'll try donuts next week."
"If I get out of the car again," he threatened with a mischievous grin, "you're going to have to drive in traffic to retrieve me. You ready for that?"
Donuts it was. Six of them. One at a time. And then two complete figure eights. I hated Jim. If I could have made him carsick, I'd have jumped at the chance. Especially since it was his car, not mine.
"See?" he gloated. "I told you that you can do it. And you did! You did great. Next week, I'll take you out on the interstate."
I wanted to fire Jim. But he was right. I had done it. The circumstances were controlled. But I did drive. His ploys had worked. He was going to make a driver out of me.
The kids were so excited when they found out I had driven, they begged for a field trip back to another dealership. They wanted to help pick out "our" new car. RTD could get us there. And then we could drive home, they squealed. I couldn't quite muster the same level of enthusiasm.
"We can eat at a fancy restaurant instead of fast food!" Taz cheered.
"We can celebrate you driving!" Raz sang.
You two can drive me up the wall, I thought to myself.
"Oh, my heavens. I guess we're going car shopping."
"Yippee!!!" They danced and sang all the way to the bus stop. Then they danced and sang on the bus, to the driver's amusement. They announced our plans to every boarding passenger. These two clowns were either trying to commit me to a car purchase or have me committed.
Taz favored a metallic blue Toyota truck, even though it would not work for three of us on a road trip. Raz liked a champagne-colored Camry, even though it was out of my price range.
I liked the car I had. I think I sat in the passenger seat of every Corolla on the lot. The salespeople made me feel highly rebellious and hesitant with their hardcore effort to get me to test drive. I kept trying to explain to them why I did not want to drive. They were reading my kids' eager anticipation instead of realizing I was the one with the checkbook. To the children's great disappointment, we returned home on the bus. Taco Bell would have to do.
Read Part XXI here.
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Copyright 2013 by Deborah and Brett Atkinson