This is the Turning Point Series where I recall events in my life that changed the course of my journey in some significant, impactful way. I almost entitled it the TP Series, but then thought better of it. Given the state of our world with covid and everything, I didn’t want people to wrongly assume this was the central spot to find the best toilet paper sales in the north (it’s not, btw).
For most of my young life, we did not own a family car. As far as I could remember, we were a family that always relied on others or on public transportation. If we had family gatherings elsewhere or had to go anywhere far, we generally had to prepare for a long trek or ask extended family for rides. I never, in my wildest dreams, thought I’d ever learn how to drive a car. It was so foreign to me to think of myself behind the wheel of a vehicle because I didn’t grow up with the advantages of having one. I have fond memories of lugging heavy groceries or laundry bags every weekend with my mom on very crowded public transportation. As dreadful of a task as it was, it was something we were used to as kids. We never thought there could be any other way. As my peers at that time were itching to get their driver’s license, I was sitting back and living vicariously through them. But it was never a desire of mine to experience driving simply because we didn’t own a family vehicle so there really was no point in getting excited about turning 16.
So, when my dad bought our first family car, I was intrigued. However, unlike most young people, I didn’t even have any thoughts about driving yet. Truthfully, it was much too scary, and I was relieved not to be the driver in the family. But I guess one day my dad decided it was time for me to learn a new life skill. Coincidentally, it was right around the time of my first real heartbreak- my boyfriend and I had just broken up. We had been together for 3 years (an eternity for a young person), and I had practically relocated to his home for the better part of that time. I was in a mopey, hibernating state and, in general, inconsolable. One day, shortly after the break-up, I reluctantly asked my dad to drive me (while silently sobbing in the backseat) to go pick up my things from my ex’s place. I hated showing my vulnerable side to my parents, but there was no way I was going to be able to move all my stuff home on transit amid my despair. In that moment, I had felt a sense of loss for any form of independence I thought I had up until that point. It hadn’t occurred to me that I had been relying on two men in that moment, each to bridge my past with my present. I needed my dad to drive me to pick up the broken pieces of my past (from where the other had brought me to my temporary home). I never want to feel so dependent on another man again like that.
My dad thought a good way to get me out of my funk would be for me to take driving lessons to gain some autonomy. He even offered to pay for my lessons so I could learn the “proper” way. This is where it gets embarrassing; he signed me up for road lessons with a company called Good Luck Driving School. I kid you not- everywhere we drove, without fail, some idiot would sarcastically scream in our general direction, “GOOD LUCK DRIVING!” *insert face palm*
I still remember it- the day I passed my full driver’s test. I wanted to surprise my best friends, so I preemptively called them to say I had failed the test then minutes later I drove myself up to their house to see their shocked faces. I still have a fuzzy picture somewhere that I took of their hilarious reactions. We were united in our elation because it signified a new power dynamic in our lives. We no longer had to depend on anyone else (especially boyfriends) to give us a lift or be limited by our surroundings. Even now, one of the best feelings in the world is driving by myself in my car with the music blaring. To me, it represents a sense of freedom, independence, joy and privilege. I suppose it’s my own version of driving off into the sunset.
What about you- what’s an event in your life that helped you become less dependent on others?
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