A little over a year ago, I got my instruction permit for the first time.
A little over a month ago, I got my instruction permit for the second time.
A little over a day ago, I went on the freeway for the first time!
Don't worry - I'll elaborate on that last point! ;)
My parents were kind enough to pay for and help me set up driving lessons with Eureka Driving School - three 2-hour sessions. My first lesson this past Thursday was quite surreal, let me tell you!
As soon as I got there, my instructor (a sweet and feisty older woman) had me sit behind the wheel of the car. After I explained that I had only driven in a parking lot (and that was last summer), she agreed to drive me to a residential area and have me start there instead. Probably the safest option, I think!
For about an hour she taught me the ins and outs of stopping and making turns and pulling up to a curb. And then she asked me if I was ready to drive in town.
Going more than 20 mph?
Ummm... I didn't think I was ready. I mean, a lot could happen driving downtown, even in a small-ish place like Eureka! (Did my instructor really value her life??)
And then my instructor said, "Well, we could just spend the next hour driving in this residential area." (Yes, I think there was a bit of sarcasm there.)
Oh, OK, if you put it that way!
"You can do it," she told me.
And you know what? She was right! (Although, I'm glad she was sitting next to me with her own brake and the ability to reach over and help me steer when necessary!)
I drove through town for a little while, turning when she told me to turn and trying to follow her instructions. (Although there was one STOP sign I didn't completely stop at... Oops!) She helped me pull over when the ambulance drove through town and even showed me how to fill up a gas tank.
After getting gas, I drove out of town for a ways, and then she told me I should practice going on and off the freeway. At that point, I had to go fast, or I was toast! Sixty-five mph - did I really drive that fast?? Yep, and 30 mph seemed much less scary after that, LOL!
I think I was a bit more confident driving us back to the driving school, filled with stories to tell my family and friends. Maybe some day I'll look back at this and laugh about how huge a deal this learning-to-drive thing was to me, but I hope I'll always maintain a sense of healthy caution and respect for driving. =)
If it had been up to me, I might have spent the whole lesson in that residential area, never quite sure if I was really ready to drive in town. I needed that gentle push - that reminder that sometimes you just need to jump in and do it.
In this crazy adventure called "life," may God give us wisdom to know the times when we really do need more time in preparation and practice. But may He also give us the grace to heed those gentle pushes when we need to, and to plow ahead with confidence on the path He has prepared for us.
P.S. I have to add that since I wrote this post, I went out driving again with my mom...and let's just say that things didn't go as well as I had hoped. Don't worry - nobody got hurt, and I didn't crash or anything! But I had a difficult time with some turns and just driving smoothly. The worst part was trying to turn at the top of the hill to get back to our house... I knew there was a jogger coming up the hill, and my mom was telling me to look to the right before I turned left (which I wasn't doing), and I wasn't turning like I should... We both ended up panicking. (Thank goodness we didn't go through our neighbor's fence!) All that panicking led to tears after I got out of the car... Lots and lots of tears as I felt my self-confidence slowly draining away.
It's a strange place to finish a post, but as this is a "driving diary" post, I have to tell it like it is. And right now learning to drive is slow process - a little bit forward in "drive," and a lot backward in "reverse." But after a talk with my grandma that helped me put some things in perspective, I'm feeling a lot better, in any case. She reminded me that no one is born learning how to drive, and everyone has to start somewhere.
So as they say on Meet the Robinsons, I have to remember to "keep moving forward!"